Austrian wine has rapidly gained in international stature in the past decade, mostly on the strength of Austria's dry white wines produced within a 20-mile radius of the small city of Krems on the Danube, less than 50 miles west of Vienna. The steep, terraced, riverside vineyards of the Wachau, immediately west of Krems, as well as geologically diverse sites on the edges of the city and to the north in the Kamptal, yield Austria's most brilliant and distinctive wines. Differences among Austrian wines within close proximity to one another are often dramatic. Nearly as dramatic, is the sight of such geological formations as crumbling volcanic slopes, sandstone buttes, and huge wavelike mounds of ancient glacial dust called loess.
Burgenland, a long, narrow swath of land running the length of Austria's border with Hungary, is home to the majority of Austria's red wines and botrytis-influenced sweet wines. Northern Burgenland is subdivided into two viticultural regions, the Neusiedlersee and Neusiedlersee-Hügelland, both named for the long, shallow lake that runs between them. To the south two red Austrian wine regions are appropriately known as Mittelburgenland and Südburgenland.
Ranges from dry to sweet, but deeply aromatic in all styles
Munster cheese, pork, goose, spicy Asian food
One of the wine world's love-it-or-hate-it grapes, Gewürztraminer is for many wine lovers the signature variety of Alsace. Its highly perfumed aromas of rose petal, smoked meat, lychee, grapefruit, and spices are immediate and captivating, although some examples lack refinement and seem a bit blowzy owing to low acidity and high alcohol. Gewürztraminer is as unlike the steelier, more aristocratic Riesling as a white grape can be. No other region of the world has been able to produce significant quantities of Gewürztraminer that even approach the decadent richness and exotic fruit qualities that the best producers in Alsace achieve. Still, other than late-harvest versions, Gewürztraminer is normally a dry wine in Alsace, despite smelling like a sweet one. Gewürztraminer marries beautifully with rich, fatty dishes like pork and goose or ripe cheeses, as well as with the exotic spices of Moroccan, Indian, and Far Eastern cuisines.