Austrian wine in your glass and a festive meal on your plate – what better way to celebrate? There’s always the perfect wine to pair with your favourite dish – to drink as an aperitif, to accompany a hearty fondue or to sip alongside Christmas cakes and biscuits.

The picture shows a plate with starters.
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Aperitif

Sekt and Pét-Nat are an excellent accompaniment for dainty rolls topped with salmon or smoked fish. If your tastes run to roast beef, smoked duck or game pâté, a glass of young red wine is a good alternative.

The perfect pairing

  • For traditionalists: a dry Sekt, produced from Welschriesling or Grüner Veltliner for example, bottle-fermented (méthode traditionelle)
  • For the more adventurous: Pét-Nat (sparkling wine whose carbonation results from spontaneous fermentation in the bottle)
  • For down-to-earth wine drinkers: a glass of young red wine e.g. Sankt Laurent or Zweigelt, lightly chilled
     
The picture shows roast goose with cabbage, dumplings and white and red wine.
© Austrian Wine / Blickwerk Fotografie

Christmas turkey

Whether you are serving roast turkey, duck or goose, when it comes to poultry, wine experts are divided. White or not white, that is the question! One option is aligning the wine with the colour of the cabbage: white wine with white cabbage, red wine with red.

The perfect pairing

  • Grüner Veltliner and roast duck: the outright favourite is a nice Grüner Veltliner, medium-bodied but with a rich mineral quality. However, other non-aromatic varieties also pair well with duck.
  • In the red wine camp, a fruity, cool Pinot Noir leads by a nose.
  • Blaufränkisch and cuvée blends are perfect with a nicely pink, medium-cooked duck breast.    
  • Christmas goose: either pick a dense white wine, a (young!) red wine served lightly chilled, e.g. Zweigelt, or plump straight for one of the big red wine varieties .

 

The picture shows roast pork with white and red wine.
© Austrian Wine / Blickwerk Fotografie

Roast pork

Pork is generally best served with younger white wines. It all depends, however, on what the pork is being served with. If you have gone for the traditional cabbage and dumplings , then a classic dry wine (but with body!) will harmonise well, e.g. Grüner Veltliner or Welschrielsing. Other side dishes, such as mashed sweet potato or gingered cabbage, will be well-matched with an elegant Rotgipfler.

The perfect pairing

  • Dense Grüner Veltliner: this is where a powerful, zesty Veltliner with its mellow mouthfeel really comes into its own. It props up the tenderness of the pork, copes well with the crispy crackling and creates a highly aromatic combination with cabbage if this is served on the side.
  • Gemischter Satz: these wines are a lot of fun in this context, especially those with a little power behind them. The multi-faceted aromatics also measure up well against more complex side dishes and a rich gravy.
  • Regional alternatives: naturally, in every wine-growing region, the local wine is drunk with roast pork: e.g. Schilcher in Weststeiermark or a classic Blaufränkisch or Zweigelt in Burgenland or a Rotgipfler from the Thermenregion.

 

The picture shows a pot of cheese and a piece of bread.
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Fondue: Cheese, Fish or Meat

Fondues are true classics at Christmas time and New Year. In general, they call for denser white wines, Pinot – whether red or white – or classic styles of red wine, depending on the type of meat.

The perfect pairing

  • Grauburgunder: cheese fondues need a white wine with some body to it, like a dense Pinot Gris that provides a good counterpart to the cheese.
  • White Pinot varieties: Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc are first-class accompaniments for fish fondues, chicken or veal, and are also enjoyable to drink on their own, should the fondue take longer than expected.
  • If you like to serve pork on your skewers, then a classic-style red wine such as Zweigelt, Sankt Laurent or Blaufränkisch is the best choice. Beef and the somewhat richer fondue sauces can take denser wines that have been aged in wood, such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

The picture shows a carp on a plate.
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Carp: fried, au bleu & á la meuniére

Carp is a very popular choice for Christmas dinner in Austria. Recommendations regarding wine depend to a large extent on how the carp is prepared: whether fried or prepared au bleu. Another important factor to consider when choosing wine is the side dishes: a mayonnaise-tossed salad with fried carp, root vegetables with carp au bleu, or boiled, parsleyed potatoes with carp à la meunière.

The perfect pairing

  • Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc: if you are serving carp au bleu with steamed root vegetables and delicate hints of juniper, an aromatic Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc will go well with it.
  • Grüner Veltliner Reserve, Frühroter Veltliner and Rotgipfler: fried carp needs a wine that can hold its own against the breadcrumb coating and hearty salads.
  • Young wines, Welschriesling, Gemischter Satz and chilled red wine: the best option for carp à la meunière with garlic is a tangy white wine or a lightly chilled red wine (e.g. Zweigelt).

 

The picture shows sausages and sauerkraut.
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Sausages & Co.

In Carinthia, Salzburg, Tyrol and Upper Austria, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without sausages! Selchwurst smoked sausages or Bratwurst with sauerkraut, black pudding, sausage soup, etc. are all popular in these regions at this time of year. As far as wine is concerned, possible choices include Sekt, Traminer, rosé and chilled reds.

The perfect pairing

  • A match every time: Sekt is a good choice if sausages are served with sauerkraut. Tip: when preparing the cabbage, lace it with a good dash of Sekt.
  • Traminer: with hearty sausages or black pudding, you should definitely try a Traminer.
  • A dry rosé or lightly chilled young red wine goes perfectly with Bratwurst.

 

The picture shows a hand holding a christmas cookie.
© Austrian Wine / Blickwerk Fotografie

Christmas Biscuits

When it comes to classic Austrian Christmas biscuits like Vanillekipferl (vanilla crescents), Husarenkrapfen (jam-filled nut biscuits), Rumschnitten (rum slices), florentines, Nussecken (nut triangles) and Linzer Kipferl (crescent-shaped shortbread biscuits sandwiched together with apricot jam, the ends of which are dipped in chocolate), then the following rules of thumb apply: sweet wines and Auslesen are a wonderful accompaniment for biscuits that are not too sweet. If the biscuit is coated in chocolate or something similar, then a glass of red wine is the way to go.

The perfect pairing

  • Beerenauslesen, Ausbruch and Troeckenbeerenauslesen taste wonderful with simple, plain biscuits, allowing the sweetness and extract to really shine.
  • For chocolate-coated biscuits or mini doughnuts with a cream filling, definitely try a glass of fruity red wine – e.g. a Pinot Noir or Blaufränkisch – which will bring out the sweetness.

 

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