Discovering Vienna’s winebars

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)!

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The Eulennest is a very friendly place.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Enjoying Vienna

Work brought me to Vienna for a couple of days. In the next few posts I will tell you more about Vienna’s wine bars and some of the Austrian wines I had. But today I want to share a couple of pictures with you from this beautiful city, because I liked it so much. I had been in Vienna a few years ago, but didn’t have time then to really explore the city. This time I had a bit more time and luckily the weather was good as well.

In 2018 Vienna was voted the most liveable city in the world for the ninth time in a row. Quite a feat! (Baghdad is the worst in case you wonder.) And I must say that in the little time that I had to wander around, Vienna really made a big impression on me. What I find really unique here is that the city is packed with beautiful historical buildings in a relatively small area. Vienna has a total area of 414.65 square kilometres. The metropolitan area of Paris is about 2300 square kilometres, just to give you an idea.

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Amazing, isn’t it?

In Vienna impressive palaces, old churches, and elegant houses keep appearing in every new street you take. And there is absolutely no need to take a bus or a metro anywhere, you can cover the whole historical centre by Foot. Even outside the historical centre, you will still find beautiful and stately houses like the one below.

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Probably not in any guide, but this was just one block away from where I was staying.

One day I finished early and took advantage to go to the Leopold Museum. As there was little over an hour left to visit the museum, I almost ran through all the exhibitions, but I’m glad I did it. There was a beautiful exhibition dedicated to Egon Schiele. I will not post a picture of his work here because I would probably be banned from WordPress. Rather explicit!

An artist whom I did not know before, but really impressed me, was Koloman Moser, one of leading artists of the Vienna Secession movement, a group of “rebel” artists at the end of the 19th century, amongs whom also Gustav Klimt. He was known for his graphic art, but also his paintings and his furniture.

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I wouldn’t mind having this in my living room

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And a loungy couch for on the terrace perhaps?

The Leopold Museum is situated in an area that concentrates quite a few museums around a square. The square was a great place where people just chilled, had a beer or soaked up the sun.

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You’d probably need a week to visit all the museums around this square.

And of course, when in Wien, you need to have a sausage at one of the many food stalls in the city. I had a great curry sausage, with a sauce that was actually quite spicy, but I liked it very much. Purists will say that curry wurst is actually from Berlin. And they’re right, but they make darn good ones in Vienna too.

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Comfort food

I just want to show you the food stall that sold these sausages :

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Have you noticed the rabbit?

And on the other side there’s the Opera House :

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How often do you get to eat street food with a view like this?

And they actually sold wine! And not just any…

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Do you fancy a glass of champagne with your sausage, sir?

I’ll stop it here. I could go on forever about the wonders of Vienna. If you have a chance to visit, don’t hesitate. It’s a great place!

Next time, I’ll talk about wine again, I promise!