We just concluded our biggest promotion of Austrian red wines ever to hit the US, but we’re still loving these wines consistently! Today’s feature is Zweigelt (Tsvy-gelt)! After having been determined to be the best wine for Thanksgiving, it’s a natural choice to continue the trend through Christmas and the entire holiday season.
According to the Beverage Tasting Institute, Zweigelt is the new go-to for several panelists after having tasting it was a match for Thanksgiving turkey, but we shouldn’t forget that Zweigelt, much like Grüner Veltliner, is a quite versatile grape that pairs well with many different fare.
The grape is known as an easily-approachable, fruit-forward grape, but it also boasts lots of black pepper and is lighter in body than other reds, often likened to Pinot Noir. The silky tannins allow for easy enjoyment with everything from roast duck to roast lamb…Christmas ham can find Zweigelt to be a good match as well.
History: In case you missed, it Zweigelt turned 90 years old this year (#HappyBirthdayZweigelt.) It was created in 1922 by Dr. Fritz Zweigelt who sought out to create a grape variety that was resistent to disease, but produced high yields. He crossed Austria’s native varieties Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent and voila, Zweigelt was born. Of course, the grape was known as Rotburger until Lenz Moser, creator of the Hocherziehung trellis system, renamed the grape after Dr. Zweigelt to avoid confusion with similar-sounding grape varieties.
Zweigelt is known for producing high yields and it is still under exploration for its aging potential. Earlier this year, however, Zweigelt received its first DAC classification under the Neusiedlersee DAC. Today, the grape is the most widely planted red grape in Austria and the second-most planted grape overall accounting for just over 14% of total production. It is grown throughout all of the quality wine-growing regions, but is most prized in Burgenland and in southern portions of Lower Austria such as Carnuntum.
Zweigelt is delicious on its own or blended with Blaufränkish, and/or St. Laurent, and/or international varieties in a cuvee. Like Grüner, however, don’t judge all Zweigelt as the same. It has many flavors and can be denser and richer dependent upon oak usage, age of the grapes when harvested, and region.
So open a bottle of Zweigelt this holiday – you won’t regret it!