Wine Bars and Stores
Wein & Co.
This city-center spot—one of the newest in the Wein & Co. chainlet—combines a wine store, tasting bar and terrific Mediterranean restaurant, all under one roof. At happy hour, young Viennese pack the handsome bar, which serves 60 to 100 wines by the glass alongside artisanal charcuterie. At lunch the restaurant's wooden banquettes are occupied by wine-industry honchos ordering dishes like cockles in parsleyed Chardonnay sauce. Wein & Co. showcases a huge selection of Austrian bottlings: classic-style Grüner Veltliners from such elite Wachau producers as Prager and Knoll; crisp, playful Sauvignon Blancs from the up-and-coming Styria region; and luscious dessert wines from vintners like Alois Kracher that have delighted critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. The store's most popular shelf is devoted to vintners from the Burgenland region, Austria's current red-wine epicenter. Wein & Co. also boasts a midnight closing time and a nifty corkage program in the bar (where any of the store's wines can be opened for a small surcharge) that includes a big bottle of mineral water. Address: Jasomirgottstrasse 3-5; phone: 011-43-1-535-09-1612.
Unger und Klein
A dapper leader of the Viennese wine revolution since the 1990s, Helmuth Unger still attracts discerning oenophiles to his wine bar–cum–store in Vienna's textile quarter. The striking design features a wall of wine bottles that curves like the side of a piano. The owner's refined palate is reflected in the ever-changing selection of 50 wines by the glass; these might include such standouts as the 2005 Lagler Grüner Veltliner, which has the scent of a peach milk shake. Unger is especially proud of his collaboration with Gernot Heinrich, a Burgenland vintner who is regarded as the rock star of Austrian reds. The two have created a hip, inexpensive cuvée with a bold label and the catchy name Red—a soft, drinkable blend of the region's signature Zweigelt, St-Laurent and Blaufränkisch grapes. For snacking with these wines, there's gorgeously smoky salami made from a rare breed of pig. Address: Gölsdorfgasse 2; phone: 011-43-1-532-1323.
Hotel Rathaus Wein & Design
Most self-styled wine hotels offer afternoon tastings and, possibly, a grapeseed scrub at the spa. But this intimate new boutique hotel tucked away in a classic Viennese building takes wine appreciation a lot more seriously. Each of the 33 handsome, high-ceilinged rooms, decked out with dark wood and drapes in earth colors like burnt-orange, is dedicated to a different Austrian vintner, with minibars that are stocked with the appropriate bottles—at a markup of just a few euros. Room 3 showcases the generous fruit-driven reds by the pioneering producer Gerhard Markowitsch, from the tiny Carnuntum region; in number 302 guests find elegant Chardonnays from superstar Viennese vintner Fritz Wieninger, Jr. Guest quarters are also equipped with professional stemware and intense fruit eaux-de-vie from the schnapps emperor Hans Reisetbauer. Downstairs at the swank bar, with its backlit marble counter, the wine list represents all the big shots of modern Austrian viticulture. And the restaurant serves an awe-inspiring breakfast buffet of smoked meats and cheeses from small, secret producers and passion-fruit honey or chocolate-blackberry jam made by Rathaus's owner. Details: Doubles from $190; Address: Lange Gasse 13; phone: 011-43-1-400-1122.
A few years ago, the palatial Sacher Hotel updated its portfolio of restaurants with this smart, stylish wine bar overlooking the Opera House. With its rich palate of golds, the place evokes a luxe chocolate box. The streamlined menu offers terrific vitello tonnato scattered with big, juicy capers, while the wine list includes a little-known Franz Sommer Merlot—with firm tannins uncharacteristic of the normally mellow Austrian reds—and the outstanding 2005 vintage of Wachau Grüner Veltliners. There's no way around it: You'll end with the hotel's signature Sacher torte, perhaps with a glass of the dry, aromatic Bründlmeyer Sekt. Details: Doubles from $470; Philharmonikerstrasse 4; phone: 011-43-1-5145-6699.