This grape is a bit of a favourite of mine as one of those thirst-quenching whites to brighten you up after a long day. The name doesn’t really sell the wine to you, a bit of a mouthful and hard to communicate across a busy bar. But I am seeing it pop up on a lot of wine bar lists and I can understand why. It has that light herbaceous aroma that would appeal to a Sauvignon drinker, but it is actually far more delicate, with mild citrus fruit and gentle peppery notes which put it closer to a good Pinot Grigio in style.
Its native land is Austria, where the climate is warmer than Germany and therefore can produce wines that have a slightly riper character, gentle lime to grapefruit in spectrum. For the best styles look for the word “Smaragd” on the label. These styles have more ripeness and rich texture to them. Top regions are Wachau where the wines show refine and minerality or Kamptal that produces slightly more fruity styles.
Some new world versions coming from New Zealand or USA are really interesting and produce perceptively sweeter fruit styles but still with the lifted acidity and peppery finish.
The hallmark of a Grüner is its naturally vervy acidity. This gives the wine a bone dry and quite lean feel. Many wineries bottle with a little residual carbon dioxide in the wine to keep it fresh which can also give a slight spritz to the palate. The wines are typically tank fermented and bottled to release early, but some niche producers can give a little age in large old oak vats.
Furmint, Garganega, Arneis, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc, Riesling
Austria: Wachau, Kamptal, Weinvertel
New Zealand: Central Otago
USA: California, Washington Estate
Veal, ramen or soba noodles, Laksa curry, macaroni cheese, sushi, asparagus