What's in a name?
Just because you can’t pronounce it,
doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic wine
Not every wine drinker in Middle Tennssee may inquire about some lesser-known, fantastic varietals because not all wines are easily articulated. At Brinkmann’s, we encourage our customers to ask about difficult-to-pronounce wines, because oftentimes they are some of the greatest kept secrets in the beverage world. What’s hot this month is a mouthfall, no matter how you look at it. Check out this article on the elusive Grüner Veltliner varietal. It’s one of our favorites of the lesser-knowns at Brinkmann’s!
From Here to Your Backyard:
Grüner Veltliner (aka - The Quiet Austrians)
“Wines of the Times” By Eric Asimov
New York Times, July 2009
Grüner Veltliner is one of summer’s great, unlikely pleasures. Why unlikely? Well, it may seem shallow, but Americans have always been riveted by the mellifluous, flowing wine names drawn of the romance languages — the chardonnays, pinot grigios and Sancerres. Germanic terms, with their umlauts and consonant pileups, have historically posed obstacles, whether gewürztraminer, blaufränkisch (its alternate name, lemberger, is no better) or the ever-popular trockenbeerenauslese.
Yet grüner veltliner from Austria has not only survived but prospered on restaurant lists across the country. It’s one of those happily inexplicable things. Years ago I never would have guessed that Americans would fall in love with raw fish, but now sushi bars are everywhere.
One possible reason for grüner veltliner’s popularity is that, unlike riesling, it does not have to overcome the assumption that it’s sweet. Sure, sweet grüner veltliners are produced, very good ones in fact. But they are the exception. Consumers can be confident when they order a bottle that it will be dry.
Another is the wine itself. Grüner veltliner can range from crisp and light-bodied to rich and full-bodied, with aromas and flavors of lemon and grapefruit, flowers and herbs. Perhaps its most distinctive feature is a peppery spiciness. Good examples can also have a minerality.
Across the stylistic board, though, a dry grüner veltliner should have a refreshing tanginess, borne of good acidity. All told, a good grüner veltliner goes wonderfully with many foods.
As for the name, Americans have found several methods of sliding by. Most common is simply truncating the name, calling it grüner (and softening it to GROO-ner rather than the more correct, diacritical GREWH-ner), and dispensing with the ungainly veltliner (pronounced FEHLT-lee-ner). Some call it simply G.V., and occasionally you’ll find sommeliers and industry people who use the insiderish term gru-ve, pronounced “groovy.”