The first things that come to mind when we think of Vienna are the waltz, the Boys’ Choir, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Gustav Klimt, Prater’s Giant Ferris Wheel, the Habsburg palaces or the apfelstrudel. We hardly think of wine, let alone Spanish wine. But even if Austrians fiercely defend their own wines, there seems to be a growing space for Spanish tapas and wine bars in Vienna.
Vienna is one of the few world capitals to have vineyards on its outskirts: up to 600 hectares, 80% of which are white grapes. The Gemischter Satz, which is so popular in the Heurigen, the traditional Viennese taverns in the suburbs, is a white wine made from different varieties which are harvested and fermented together.
Austrians drink 30 litres of wine per person and local wines dominate the on-trade sector: in fact domestic wine sales have soared from 85% in 2003 to the current 90%. In terms of foreign wines, Italy is the leading player thanks to its proximity, followed at a considerable distance by Spain while France comes third.
“Austrian wine consumers are less knowledgeable than Germans about Spanish wines; they get the overall idea of Spanish origin but know very little about wine regions, aging indications and grape varieties,” says Liola Hernáez from Bodegas Riojanas.
However, with 1.8 million inhabitants, foreign wine consumption is higher in Vienna compared to the rest of the country and it is possible to find places offering a good selection of Spanish wines. The choices range from fine restaurants to more popular wine bars and taverns.
Since it opened its doors in late 2012, this small wine bar on the 1st district has become one of the favourite meeting places for lovers of Spanish cuisine in Vienna. The friendly and professional staff, led by Ignacio García, offers a wide range of tapas served among a decor of food cans and bottles. The wine list includes around 50 wines, but they always have new selections to serve to their clients from well-known regions like Ribera del Duero and emerging appellations.
Salztorgasse 7, 1010 Viena. Tel: +43 1 9220851.
Somewhere between a Viennese coffee house and an Andalusian tavern, Lola offers a really pleasant atmosphere in the city’s 1st district, not far from Ignacio. Wines by the glass (from €3.10 to €5.90 for 10 cl.) and by the bottle (15 red wines and four whites) are advertised on a big board. Austrian whites are also served to meet the local demand. According to director Francisco Maldonado, 50% of all Spanish wine served at Lola comes from Rioja, around 30% form Ribera del Duero and the rest from Priorat.
Gonzagagasse 14, 1010 Viena. Tel: +43 1 532 30 71.
This bar opened recently under the formula of serving classic tapas in a modern atmosphere. Its short but exquisite wine list includes a generous list of Sherries and Cava along with well-known producers like Marqués de Murrieta from Rioja or Aalto from Ribera del Duero. There are always three white wines, a rosé and four reds by the glass. We will have to wait a few months to see how Austrians like this place, but it seems to meet all the requirements to make it work: good tapas, an excellent wine list and helpful, competent staff.
Nussdorfer Str. 7, 1090 Viena. Tel: +43 1 89 03 785.
Housed in Collalto Palace, in the historic heart of Vienna, this is a classic Spanish restaurant with a comprehensive wine list including around 75 selections from long-standing, well known producers like Vega Sicilia or Pingus in Ribera del Duero along with modern wines such as Teso La Monja in Toro.
Parisergasse 1, 1010 Viena. Tel: +43 1 5339170.
Located in a hip area in the 7th district, it offers Spanish food and a wine list with 100 different selections.
Mondscheingasse 2, 1070 Viena. Tel: +43 1 944 99 66.
This German-Spanish chef with three Michelin stars in Germany set up a new project in Vienna earlier this year in partnership with Austrian winemaker Fritz Wieninger. In fact, they have opened two restaurants with a different approach to food but a shared wine list.
The Wirtshaus restaurant occupies an old cellar with wooden barrels on the back. The simple, modern furniture creates the right atmosphere to enjoy one of the most expensive menus in the city. Sommelier Andreas Katona told us that customers’ tastes range from traditional Rioja reds to modern wines such as Comando G in Gredos. Given that the wine list includes 2,000 different wines with a major focus on Austria, Germany and Spain, there is plenty to choose from. Wines by the glass include Venus La Universal from Montsant (€13 for 10cl) or a white Vidonia from Suertes del Marques in Tenerife (€9.20 per 10cl).
Grinzinger Str. 86, 1190 Viena. Tel: +43 1 660 9070500.
This is the newest among the seven subsidiaries owned by Austrian importer and distributor Wein & Co in Vienna. Located in one of the streets facing St. Stephen's Cathedral square, it occupies 800m2 divided in three floors. There is a wine bar on the ground floor, a private tasting room on the first floor and a wine store on the basement. The shop has 2,000 different wines on sale and is open until midnight. Spain takes up two shelves as well as a selection of Cava and Sherry. Austrian wines dominate the bar menu, but we saw some Riojas served by the glass: Conde de Valdemar Crianza 2011 (€5 for 10cl) and Marqués de Vargas Reserva 2011 (€6 for 10cl). We loved to see a bottle of Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva 2007 (€ 17 per 10cl.) next to Cos d'Estournel and Tignanello.
The wine store in Naschmarkt (Linke Wienzeile, 4), one of the most buoyant areas in the city, is also worth visiting. It opens all week.
Jasomirgottstraße 3-5, 1010 Viena. Tel.: +43 1 05 07 06-3122.
Established in 1976 in St. Stephen square, this is the oldest wine store in Vienna. Sherry shines here thanks to a great selection form Lustau together with Vega Sicilia’s rarest wine, the Único Reserva Especial and producers from regions out of the beaten paths like Tenerife, Montsant or Andalusia. Traditional Rioja include Gran Reserva 890 from La Rioja Alta and a vertical of Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva (the 1952 retails at €438), or La Rioja Alta wines "890", etc. The service is very knowledgeable and caring.
Stephansplatz 6, 1010 Viena. Tel.: +43 1 512 68 58.