Mediterranean cuisine enjoys great popularity in Austria and is not limited to pizza and pasta. The secret lies in the simple and rather purist composition of the dishes. Spanish tapas are currently experiencing a revival and gazpacho has found its way onto the Austrian culinary scene after becoming popular during the summer. Greek cuisine is a permanent favourite although not necessarily served with Greek wine.
Wine plays a fundamental role in Mediterranean cuisine as an accompaniment to meals. Light and fresh wines with fine acidity are typically chosen to be paired with food and these are qualities which can easily be fulfilled by Austrian wines.
As a rule: white wines are the best option. Starters require light and fresh white wines with delicate fruit while complex pasta dishes can handle slightly riper white wines, provided they are not too dominated by alcohol and there are no botrytis notes. Grüner Veltliner is a universal food companion and pairs well with almost anything, from antipasti to meat. Burgundian varieties come in a close second which is unsurprising as they find their equivalents in Italian wines. Too much acidity does not harmonise well just as too much minerality or spiciness is particularly counterproductive when it comes to pairing with garlic or spicy dishes.
Styrian wine, in particular Sauvignon Blanc, is the ideal companion for an array of Mediterranean dishes. The wine may be medium-bodied and unoaked and certainly does not have to be a single vineyard wine; it should however have ripe fruit in the foreground, few green notes and no excessively loud aromas.
Mediterranean cuisine demands elegance of the wines that accompany it, and this goes for red wines too. Fine fruit, not too high concentration and above all moderate and discreet barrel maturation are usually a safe bet. St. Laurent has proved to be particularly suitable as a result of its herbal notes and earthy tones which tend to harmonise with a lot of dishes.
The AWMB would like to thank Angelika Deutsch for her professional contribution to the tastings and for her editorial support.