• Heurigenjause © Martina Siebenhandl

Tours of Culinary Delights along the Danube

Red-letter Dates in Weinherbst

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The Wachau is a UNESCO World Heritage site for so many reasons. With its unique riverscape, its typical terraced vineyards and its delicately fruity Rieslings and Grüner Veltliners, it is a true gem and one of Austria's leading winegrowing regions.

Grapes flourish in the characteristic residual soils and the terraced vineyards built centuries ago. The cool winds from the Waldviertel highlands combine with the moderating effect of the Danube on the temperature to create wines of great spiciness and elegance while the Pannonian currents from the east lend the Wachau vintages their power and opulent body. Riesling is of course a major grape variety here that is known around the globe but Grüner Veltliner, Neuburger and Gelber Muskateller are also highly esteemed by wine aficionados.

Wein Wachau © Andreas Hofer

What is a heuriger?

“Heurig” is an adjective in Austrian dialect that means “this year.” It refers to “this year’s” wine, i.e. the new wine, as well as to the winemakers’ premises where they are allowed to serve their own wine to the public along with simple down-to-earth foods. These heurige are typical of the wine regions in Lower Austria.    A genuine heuriger is open only at certain times of the year. A few fir or conifer twigs hung out (ausgesteckt) at the entrance to the house indicate that the heuriger is open.

 To online heuriger calendar

DID YOU KNOW...?

STURM is the name in Austria for the still fermenting, slightly sweet to austere tasting must on the way to becoming wine; the term in Germany is federweisser.

When the wine has not yet become wine but has moved beyond being must and sturm, it is called STAUBIGER. The designation has to do with its appearance because at this stage it is still unfiltered. It is the traditional accompaniment to goose on St. Martin's Day.

On that same day, November 11, the new wine of the current vintage (in this case 2020) is dubbed HEURIGER (this year's wine), a title it is allowed to bear for exactly one year. Incidentally, when toasting in Austria with heuriger wine, you say "Prost!" (Cheers!), whereas with sturm and staubiger , the correct term is "Mahlzeit!" (Enjoy your meal!).