Austria is a wine producing country. About 2 to 2,5 million hectolitres every year. That’s not so much in comparison to a country like Italy, which produced 50 million in 2016. But what I like alot about Austria is that it has very interesting indigenous grape varieties, such as grüner veltliner (for white wine), and zweigelt, blaufränkisch and sankt laurent (for red wines). So when I knew I was going to Vienna, I didn’t have to think twice to go and explore what Austria has to offer.
Vienna has quite a few winebars and restaurants with a focus on wine. I went to a few of those winebars curious to sample a couple of Austrian wines.
Eulennest, Operngasse 30
My favorite winebar in Vienna. It’s not in the area within the ring road around the historical centre of Vienna, so you won’t stumble upon it by chance. But it’s really not far from the opera house, so within walking distance from the main sights in Vienna. Stefan and his wife have a very cosy place where you can have a decent selection of, mainly, Austrian wines by the glass. Actually, it’s the only place where I could try a sankt laurent, the grape obviously not being very popular. You can also have a plate of cheeses and/or hams, quiches and other tapas styled dishes. This is the kind of place where many locals come for a glass and where everyone seems to know each other. The house wine is very reasonably priced, around 3€ and most wines are around 5-7€. Within that range you can try several grüner veltliners, zweigelts, blaufränkisch and at the time there was also one sankt laurent. I absolutely loved the 7301 Blaufränkisch of Kirnbauer there. But more about that in a next post. All wines can be bought there, so it’s basically a winebar and wineshop at the same time, something I’ve seen in several places in Vienna. I can definitely recommend the Eulennest (Owl’s Nest)!
Vis-A-Vis, Wollzeile 5/Durchgang
Another interesting place is Vis-A-Vis, situated in the heart of Vienna just across Figlmüller, where you’re supposed to get the best schnitzel in Vienna. (Make sure to book in advance if you want to go there, there were literally queues to get in!) It’s a tiny, tiny place. I counted 4 tables for two people each. The atmosphere was interesting, I’d say. The music was a bit “suave”, think Barry White, and the people there could have come directly from the Loveboat.
Also here you get a good selection of Austrian wines by the glass. And I saw, but didn’t try, a nice range of cheeses and hams on offer. What was interesting here, if you fancy that, is that they also offered several kinds of tresterbrand, an Austrian liquor, much like grappa. Finally, they also had a couple of sweet wines by the glass.
Nice place for a glass of wine, or to digest your schnitzel from Figlmüller’s with a schnaps. But you might find yourself in the company of tourists who come in for “a beer and a whisky”. I suppose “Weinbar” doesn’t sound anything like wine bar.
Wein & Co, Linke Wienzeile 4
Wein & Co is a big chain in Austria and Germany, and has 8 shops just in Vienna alone. It’s a wine bar and shop in one, and in most places you can also eat. I was in the Wine & Co Naschmarkt, a huge wine bar, with a big shop next to it. A very different kind of place than the other wine bars I visited. It’s young, it’s hip and the people come here to meet their friends and chat. That makes it a bit busy and loud, but at the same time that gave the place a not unpleasant, sort of rowdy atmosphere. What was less pleasant here, however, was the fact that the smoking part (I was very surprised to see that so many places still had smoking zones) and the non-smoking part were not well separated, so the cigarette smoke spread also to the non-smoking part. I don’t mind if people smoke in the designated zones but I prefer to know when the tobacco comes from the wine or from cigarettes.
Anyhow, a good selection of wines per glass, and a wider, also international, range of wines by the glass. Because Wine & Co is such a big chain, I didn’t expect the staff to be very knowledgeable, but I was wrong. Both the staff in the wine bar and in the shop were very knowledgeable and friendly. The number of wines on offer in the shop is quite impressive. Unfortunately, keeping a shop open until 24h00 has a price, and that was reflected in the prices of the wines, both in the wine bar as in the shop. But still, definitely worth a visit.
Weinorgel, Bäckerstrasse 2
Weinorgel is situated in the heart of Vienna and actually has an organ inside. It looked like a very cosy place, with many locals sipping on a glass of wine. Unfortunately, when I entered, I noticed the place was full of cigarette smoke. I suppose there was no separate smoking zone here. I hate it when my clothes smell of cigarettes, and most of all, I don’t see how you can really enjoy the wine if you can only smell cigarettes. So, off I went. No wine in Weinorgel for me.
And that was that. I discovered a few nice places, all very different, and had good Austrian wines. But more about those in the next posts!