Austrian wines are mostly dry white wines made from Grüner Veltliner grape. About 30% are red, made from Blaufränkisch, (also known as Lemberger) Pinot Noir, and Zweigelt. After World War I, Austria was the third largest wine producer in the world, much being exported in bulk for blending with wine from Germany and other countries.
In 1985 a limited number of Austrian wineries illegally adulterated their wine with diethylene glycol (primary ingredient used to make anti-freeze). Several poor harvests produced grapes that were “light and acidic” making them unsaleable. Using diethylene glycol gave the wine sweetness and body! It’s said the anti-freeze scandal was discovered when one of the producers tried to claim the cost of the chemical on his tax return! After this whole mess came to a head, the Austrian wine industry suffered for a few years, but in the long term it compelled them to tackle low standards in bulk wine production and reposition itself as a producer of quality wine that can be compared with the best in the world. Today, in fact, Grüner Veltliner is one of wine’s rising stars, rivalling wines like Riesling as a food-friendly alternative to traditional favorites.
Austria is also the home to Riedel, makers of some of the most expensive crystal wine glasses in the world. The company has been owned by the same family for more than 250 years.
Marie Griffin, West Florida Wine Supervisor