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Days of Wine and Good Food

By Klaus Egle

There has always been a very special connection between a country’s cuisine and its wines. When it comes to Austrian wine and food, they’re a match made in heaven.

"Perhaps it's the soil and the climate that influence the vines and other agricultural products, which in turn influence regional cuisine. Or perhaps it's the similar mentality of the people who both press the wine and create, prepare and then savor dishes coupled with the appropriate choice of wine.

Whatever it may be: a country's wine and cuisine have always seemed to form a mysterious symbiosis which has brought forth the greatest of culinary delights. A French bresse pigeon without a Pinot Noir from Burgundy? Unthinkable. A bistecca Fiorentina without Chianti or Brunello? A wonderful dish gone to waste.

It's no different with Austrian cuisine. What would accompany a hearty snack with "Verhackertes" (ground, garlic-infused, smoked bacon), "Schmalzbrot" (lard on bread), and "Backhendl" (breaded, deep fried chicken), at a west Styrian tavern better than the regional staple – Schilcher? Its intense acidity makes it a congenial partner for such opulent meals. Combine that with a view from the terrace of the vines below carrying the Schilcher grapes and heaven doesn't seem such a distant place anymore.
Or take the most Austrian of dishes, the Wiener Schnitzel. Supposedly it originates from Milan - which at the time actually belonged to Austria. Yet how could this dish find such a perfect accompaniment in such wines as the Riesling or the Weißburgunder grown on the hills of Vienna's own landmark mountains, the Nussberg and the Bisamberg, were it not a truly Viennese dish?
Austrian "Krautfleckerl" (small square "Fleckerl" pasta, tossed with caramalized and stewed cabbage) on the other hand, are ideally partnered with a more racy Welschriesling.

Now, let's consider Austria's renowned dessert cuisine. All those Knödel and Nockerl (sweet dumplings in all shapes and sizes) or those Schmarren (fluffy sweet omlettes torn into bite size pieces) – what would they be without exquisite fruity dessert wines made from the ripest of berries a vineyard has to offer? The fruity and elegant Riesling-Ausleses from the Wachau, the Traminer from Styria with its distinctive smell of roses, or the seductively exotic Zinfandel and Rotgipfler from Austria's spa region. Only they can properly prepare the palate for the full appreciation of Austria's sweet delectabilities.
Wine culture means much more than simply drinking good wine. Take the opportunity to visit vineyards, a lane of wine cellars, winemakers’ worlds of experience, or wine seminars to learn the truth about wine both in theory and practice."

Klaus Egle is a renowned Austrian author on wine. He also moderates wine events, conducts wine seminars and accompanies wine tours. His opus includes numerous articles in Austrian and German periodicals and magazines and books such as "Der österreichische Wein" - "The Austrian Wine" (Pichler), "Lust auf Wein" - "Keen on Wine" (Pichler) or "Handbuch für Weinsnobs" - "Handbook for Winesnobs" (Deuticke).

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