Make it a Viennese Staycation

Posted June 21, 2016

Stacy Brody


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Round trip tickets from Newark to Austria: $1,100+

Seven nights in a hotel: $1050+

Stress of going through airport security: thousands of dollars in therapy post-vacation

versus your staycation

Case of wine: Much, much less

Sleeping in your own bed: Of inestimable value


Set your Spotify to Strauss and brush up on your waltzing skills...but there’s no need to buy a new ballroom gown or even a pair of plane tickets. This year, you’re going to have a Viennese stay-cation.


That's my plan. I met recently with one of our wine reps and fell in love with the house wines of an inn and taverna in Vienna. With little hope of actually getting to Austria this summer, I figured why not bring Austria to me? Such are the benefits of a gig in the wine world.


You can’t get much more in touch with Vienna than this (unless you feel like standing in extremely long lines at the airport to get through security). These are 1-liter bottles with beer cap closures. Learn to make schnitzel and bam! You’re in the taverna!


Meet The Martins

Vienna has a strong wine culture. Heurigen, the casual wine bars of Vienna, are everywhere. In a 2012 Saveur article, writer Leah Koenig, draws a correlation between Vienna’s Heurigen and the biergarten, writing that the heuriger is "the biergarten's cousin...where the beer is replaced with wine, but the spirit remains the same.” In fact, according to a 2015 article on Wine Folly, there are over 600 wineries in Vienna.


These city-dwellers take wine seriously. So seriously that there are not only hundreds of wineries but also over 1600 acres of vineyards within the city limits. It's the only western capital city with its own appellation, and it dates back to Roman Times. (New York City is trying to catch up - the first rooftop vineyard was planted in Brooklyn just recently!)


Zum Martin Sepp is a popular tavern, or Heuriger, in the Grinzing district of Vienna. The tavern has been in the Martin family for generations. Like many other Viennese taverns, Zum Martin Sepp produces their own house wines. Michael Martin is the man behind the bottle, the winemaker at Weingut Martinshof, the family’s winery. Michael "Michi" is bringing it back with a dual focus on high quality and pure enjoyment. He is a super funny winemaker, one of the qualities I look for in a person whose profession is to make delicious libations. Michi's great-grandfather planted much of the family’s 13 ha in Burgundian varieties, i.e. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. When Michael took over in the late 1980s he decided that had to change. So he focused his efforts on making high-quality, food-friendly, traditionally Austrian wines that would be the right fit for the family’s tavern and widely enjoyable by both Austrians and visitors.


The Wines

All the Martinshof wines we currently carry are offered in 1-liter bottles, the perfect size for sharing - or not.


Get in the GruVe

We can’t talk about Austria without talking about Grüner Veltliner. Most Grüner is made in a young, fresh, dangerously gulpable style, intensely flavored enough for holidays like Easter and Thanksgiving, when you have everything weighing down your dining room table, and refreshing and zesty enough for summer afternoons when you just want something to sip on before dinner, while the charcoal is warming or the inflatable pool you bought is filling.


If you like Sauvignon Blanc, you have to try Grüner, as the two share a certain green quality and high acidity. Grüner is a food friendly sipper for any occasion. If you find your garden overrun with zucchini this summer - not an uncommon problem - it’s Grüner to the rescue! Whip up a zucchini quiche, pour yourself a glass and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Don’t like to cook? Dial up your reliable Thai joint and ask for delivery. This is your stay-cation.


“We are confronted with 130 or so different cultures in this country,” says Aldo Sohm, chief sommelier at New York’s Le Bernadin restaurant. “What other wine can match that many cuisines?” Sohm can be forgiven a bit of bias. He is Austrian. Grüner is universal.


I’ll Try the Rose

Rose rises to any occasion. Our wine team tasted the Zum Martin Sepp Rose by Martinshof and loved it, everything from the presentation to the taste to the refreshing finish.


Almost Provencal in style, light and refreshing, with an amazing acidity and delicious finish. This is one of my “I-pair-that-s***-with-everything” roses, light enough to serve as a social lubricant at family gatherings and card games, vibrant enough to be an aperitif, and flavorful enough to pair with a variety of foods on the table.


Michael makes his rose from Zweigelt, a traditional Austrian red variety.


Who Gets Zweigelt?

Zweigelt is a hybrid variety developed in 1922 by a Dr. Fritz Zweigelt, a viticulture researcher in Austria. Its parents are two autochthonous* varieties, St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch. From the former, Zweigelt inherits its grace and elegance, its silky tannins and red fruit character. From the latter, Zweigelt received some sassy spice, mouthwatering and food-friendly acidity, and also its dark dark coloring. 

*Make autochthonous today’s word of the day. The entry from Merriam Webster reads as follows:


adjective au·toch·tho·nous \ȯ-ˈtäk-thə-nəs\

  1. 1 :  indigenous, native <an autochthonous people>

  2. 2 :  formed or originating in the place where found <autochthonous rock> <an autochthonous infection>

autochthonously adverb

Autochthonous may not be the most beautiful sounding word. On the other hand, I love the poetic language Eric Asimov of the New York Times used in a 2007 article reviewing Zweigelt,

“It is no exaggeration to say that we were greatly excited by the Zweigelts. They had a freshness and grace that marked them as wines that would go beautifully with a wide range of foods. What’s more, they had an exotic spice and floral character, predominantly aromas of cinnamon and violets, that made them distinctive and unusual.”

Please note, the Martinshof Zweigelt was not reviewed in this article.

The Zum Martin Sepp Zweigelt is a fantastic (and "unusual") summer red and a great barbecue conversation starter. I call it the Austrian Gamay with pepper and even love to put a little chill on it!


When are you scheduling your Viennese Staycation?


Item: 95955


Retail: $15.99

$11.99 per btl

Item: 95956


Retail: $15.99

$11.99 per btl

Item: 95957


Retail: $15.99

$11.99 per btl