Grüner veltliner — this white grape is Austria’s most famous, and one of my favorite grapes on the planet... and I don't eat Chinese food without it!
Much like sauvignon blanc, this high-acid white wine is known for its white, peppery finish, making it perfect for greasy American Chinese takeout.
White peppery finish? Too geeky for you? I understand. Let's call it spicy; it has a tickle on the tongue. Generally, as well as being high in acid, these wines are packed with minerality and crisp, fresh stone fruits. In the best examples, the fruit profile is more generous, showing riper fruits and adding more weight on the palate. These wines are rarely oaked and rely on being crisp and angular. They can be very expensive, but now, many quality producers make a well-made version for less than $12 retail.
Why do they work so well together? Chinese food tends to be fairly greasy, whether you’re chowing down beef and broccoli or General Tsao’s. These fresh and lively wines refresh and excite your mouth after each bite, leaving you wanting more. In the case that your dish has some spice to it or you like to add that hot sauce yourself, a more ripe bottling has the fruit and weight to help balance the spice. Basically, it’s hard to mess this one up!
A hangover cure, a good food and wine pairing, cheap grub with cheap juice — call it what you want, but this marriage is meant to be. Keep in mind that while the more expensive bottlings age very well, when you’re buying on the inexpensive side you want to drink them young. Right now you should be looking at 2010 and now 2011’s. Here are a few favorites:
2010 Berger, Grüner Veltliner, Kremstal, Austria
This bad boy comes in a liter bottle, giving you more bang for your buck. On the lighter side, this racy style pairs well with many food categories and is a slam dunk with Chinese. It has everything you want — acid, texture, minerality, and crisp fruit — without having too much of anything.
2010 Stadt Krems, Grüner Veltliner, Kremstal, Austria
A classic example of a fun and playful Austrian white, these wines really overdeliver at their price point. Rather than boring you with the family history, I will just say they know what they are doing and have been doing it a long time. This wine tends to carry more ripe fruit than the average, making them special for the price point they fall into.
2010 Loimer "Lois," Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal, Austria
Sleek and sexy, this wine is everything you want and more. They are always laced with that classic white pepper to go along with citrus, apricot, white peach, and wild flowers. This wine almost needs food, and something rich will do best. Fred Loimer makes several bottlings, but the "Lois" is the least expensive and easiest to find.
Matthew is currently working on a website that will debut in May featuring raw, real, and entertaining information from the world of adult beverages for the young and under ripe millennial generation.