Pennsylvania Wine School: What is a Grüner Veltliner?

Chambour-huh? Vidal who? Need some help comprehending the plethora of exciting Pennsylvania grape varietals? We’re at your service, offering up some information on some of the wine words you need to know.

Varietal: Grüner Veltliner (pronounced grew-ner velt-LEE-ner).

Grown: Across Pennsylvania, but particularly in the southeast.

Similar to: Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

Grüner Veltliner is a very aromatic white wine. This dry, bright, peppery white pairs well with almost any meal, making it a favorite of restaurant sommeliers hoping to please a table full of diners. Austria’s signature grape (it grows in a third of the country’s vineyards), is becoming increasingly popular in the New World — aka regions outside of Europe, including Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia — especially in colder Northeastern U.S. climes where the grape thrives.

That versatility extends to the winemaking process — Grüner Veltliner can be enjoyed young, made into sparkling wine, or put through a long aging process, creating a smoother, more aromatic product. Unlike Chardonnays, these wines are not usually aged in new oak, but rather fermented in stainless steel and then aged in tanks or large casks. This prevents those flavors of butter, wood, or vanilla from penetrating, keeping the wines taught and crisp.

Look for notes of citrus, peach and white pepper; some vintages exhibit minerality, similar to that of Riesling. This is a great wine for lovers of white Burgundy — it’s another complex wine that ages very well — and you can often get a much better value.

Grüner goes well with almost everything. Pay tribute to the varietal’s Austrian roots with a platter of charcuterie, a spring vegetable salad, mountain trout, smoked fish or schnitzel. Where you’d reach for a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling try a Grüner. It’s a great match with fresh seafood, grilled vegetables or Asian flavors, such as herbaceous Vietnamese spring rolls or spicy Thai curry.

To learn more about other varietals grown across PA Wine Land, visit our Wine School library or click the link below to learn more.

Wine Swap: Trade Sauvignon Blanc for Grüner Veltliner

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