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Olly Smith on Austrian Grüner Veltliner

When the first snows dust across the peaks of Europe, I love drinking Grüner Veltliner, the crystal white that’s so pure it tastes like it’s been chiselled from an Alp. 

Austria is its heartland, where it’s the most widely planted grape, and with a little label-decoding, you can always pick out the peaks. 

The glory of Grüner is its ability to pair with pretty much any food you care to name. From salads or shellfish, Thai spice to sushi, it’s a winner. 

Even with notorious wine-slaying flavours like asparagus and artichoke, it delivers unparalleled deliciousness. It’s all down to Grüner’s zesty freshness, coupled with its uniquely subtle spice – somewhere between white pepper and cress. 

It’s generally a discreet echo in youthful wines from the large Weinviertel area. But zero in on Kamptal, Kremstal and Wachau, where the days are warmer, and you can find peachier Grüners with even more spicy richness.

Top producers to treat yourself to include FX Pichler, Donabaum, Felsner, Bründlmayer, Knoll and more – websites such as, and are brilliant for helping to hunt out hidden gems. 

On the high street, the supermarket own-labels are generally good, and restaurant wine lists can offer bargains to bag. Generally you can expect unoaked zestiness, but if you want richer styles, there are options aged in barrel too. 

There’s even sparkling Grüner – ‘Sekt’, Huber’s sparkling Grüner Veltliner 2014 (12.5%) is in Oddbins for £18.50 if you fancy nibble-friendly bubbly this festive season – expect a zesty summery scent contrasting with more autumnal moreishness when you sip it. 

Or just raise your glass to cooler days ahead with frost, snow and pristine peaks. Winter is coming – and it tastes divine.