Austrian wines, especially whites, can be a real treat. Wine and food lovers who also like a little historic adventure with your meal should plan a visit to one of Vienna’s heurigers.
A heuriger is basically a wine tavern which only serves Viennese wines, typically from the attached or nearby vineyards. Officially a heuriger is a tavern owned by a wine-grower where they can only serve their own wines. They offer classic Austrian dishes and some even have musical entertainment. Not only is the wine really local, it’s also really fresh – by law only wines from the current vintage are on offer, and the time for the sale to end is traditionally November 11, St. Martin’s Day.
The casual atmosphere (expect wooden tables and benches, however some are going more upscale) adds to the charm of enjoying the fresh wine recently plucked from the vineyard. And don’t be surprised by the ‘stemware’ your wine comes in – it’ll actually be more like a beer mug. This tradition is quite old – in many years gone by, guests would bring their own food to the heurigen (don’t try this today). Because the food they brought was typically greasy, tavern owners accommodated the slippery fingers with handles on their glasses.
Heurigens are located in the outskirts of Vienna, many of them in the north and northwest districts. You can still reach most of them via a tram ride and short walk or you may have to take a bus from the end of an underground or tram line. Nussdorf and Grinzing are popular areas, but heurigens can be found in Stammersdorf, Strebersdorf and Jedlersdorf as well. Be sure to phone ahead to make sure the tavern is open; most don’t begin serving until 4pm or later; many only on the weekends and they often keep other strange operating hours.
A few recommendations:
1. Take tram 60 to Mauer for a visit to Edlmoser (Maurer Lange Gasse 123), one of Vienna’s oldest wine taverns. Enjoy drinks from the winery in either the vintner’s house dating back to 1629 or the surrounding garden. Classic food too.
2. In the summer, a wonderful visit is to Mayer am Nussberg (Kahlenberger Straße bei Nr. 210) where the tavern is awaiting in the idle of the vineyard, with beautiful Vienna views.
3. Locally sourced culinary treats are prepared daily. Werner Welser (Probusgasse 12) is a heurigen in which you might get lucky with some music. In addition to the lovely wine, don’t miss their fruit strudels.
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Photos courtesy of Vienna Tourism