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 Filed as : Regional SpotlightWine TipsAustriaGermany

Red, White And Ooooooh

Jul 25, 2011
Red, White And Ooooooh
White-wine powerhouses Austria and Germany also make some terrific red wines worth seeking out.

red_wineLike most other kinds of farmers, winemakers are superstitious--and they nearly always hedge their bets. That's why almost no wine region in the world grows one, single type of grape exclusively. Since different grape varieties ripen at different rates (or are susceptible to different pests or diseases), it's only logical not to bet the farm just on cabernet, chardonnay or some other grape.

So in many regions you can usually find an underappreciated or under-hyped wine variety that's affordable as well as delicious.

Germany, for example, is best known for riesling--there is more of this white variety planted than any other grape. But there are tasty reds to be found in Germany, too--particularly pinot noir. You just have to know what to look for, since the labels tend to contain the German name for the grape, spätburgunder. With a little effort, you might even be able to find a schwarzriesling, which is the German name for pinot meunier--the red grape that's usually blended with pinot noir and chardonnay to make Champagne. In Germany, pinot meunier is often made as a dry, table red wine that tastes similar to pinot noir (though less fruity and vibrant).

While Germany's range of reds might be tough to find on store shelves, you can definitely score on value and flavor with Austria's red wines--especially from Burgenland, southeast of Vienna. This region experiences continuous warm-climate influences that allow for the production of fuller, rounder wines. The red varietals to seek out are zweigelt, blaufrankisch and st. laurent. These reds tend to be medium to full bodied, with lots of red and black fruit flavors, great tannin structure and enough acid to be incredibly versatile and balanced. Any or all of these wine varieties are worth sipping during summer evenings.

What's the region or wine variety that's taken you by surprise lately? Tell us below.

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