Twice a month, I will pair an all-time classic movie with a few killer bottles of wine. The vino will tie to the film, in some shape or form. For this first time around the track, I’ve decided to review the classic mystery, The Third Man. Its entire plot takes place in Vienna, Austria, so this a great opportunity to present a few wines from that country. Full disclosure–every state in the U.S. and every country beyond acts as its own booze fiefdom, where rules and pricing may vary. Most wine shops that are worth a hoot in hell should have a few wines from Austria, and if they don’t, tell them
you’ll puncture their fucking tires with a flat-head screwdriver they should look into it.
Austrian wines share vague similarities to their neighbors in Germany, but they have an identity all their own. White varietals Grüner Veltliner and Müller-Thurgau are commonly grown, while Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch are the dominant red grapes. These may not be as overbearingly familiar as Merlots and Chardonnays, but that’s also part of their charm. It’s easy to get stuck in a wine rut–hey, I’m guilty of it, too. This is a good way to break out your booze comfort zone and try something new.
All three of the wines I’m gonna showcase share three features: They’re affordable ($10-25ish), disarmingly easy-to-drink, and meant to be enjoyed now–probably tonight. Actually, that brings up a fourth feature. They all have screw-caps. This seems like a prime spot for me to go on a small rant. I cannot tell you the number of people who insist they will never buy wine that doesn’t have a cork. It’s undignified, they say. Inferior. Well, I say that’s…what’s the word? Horseshit. The only reason, the only reason, tHe oNLy reAsOn you ever need to buy wine with a cork is if you plan on stashing it away for a few years. Or, if the popping of said cork is a big, ceremonious thing, like if you’re christening a battleship or you just won the NBA Finals and Michael Jordan is on the ground crying next to the basketball…I get it. That’s a big deal. But, if you’re just sittin’ at home, reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing for the third time and eating baloney Lunchables, I’m telling you: Get down off Seattle Slew and join the rest of us. Phew–now, I’m outta breath.
Anyway, like I was sayin’ before y’all put me in Andy Rooney-mode: These wines are easy-drinking and approachable. They’ll go with The Third Man or just about any other movie out there. And, I’ll branch out and say they’ll pair up perfectly with the upcoming holiday meals. If you’re looking for something with ham or turkey or dressing–or stuffing, whatever the fuck you call it–or just a little sumpin sumpin to swig on while you slur your way through a political argument with your uncle, these wines could be your Thanksgiving ride-or-dies. TL;DR–they’re good, and versatile as all flippity flip:
Höpler Grüner Veltiner – 2017
Grüner Veltiner is the most prevalent white wine in Austria, and this offering from Höpler will show you why. It’s citrusy up front, and rounded off with pear and spicy notes as it goes down. The finish has a creamy texture that rounds off any acidity. If you’re wondering why it’s so damn smooth, that velvety feeling on the back of your tongue is a good start.
Schloss Gobelsburg Cistercien Rose – 2017
Like twist-off tops, Rose is still trying to shake off the bad rep bestowed on it by White Zin. This wine has about as much in common with White Zinfandel as Lawrence of Arabia has with Spice World. It’s lean–“austere” is the snooty word we’ll use–and fruity. Wine can be fruity but not sweet, by the way. Cherries and uh…honeydew! That’s what it is. The finish is clean and floral.
Pannonica Red Blend – 2017
This dude melds three of the most common reds found in Austria into one frighteningly cheap and flavorful bottle. A blend of Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, and Pinot Noir, this is one is loaded with notes of dark berries and earthy notes. It lightens up and smoothes out on the end, like it’s challenging you to drink more. (And I will, damn you.) They don’t make nearly as many Austrian reds as whites, and many are bigger and bolder than this one, but Pannonica’s Red is an above-average everyday wine.