Austria produces first-class sparkling wines – the tradition here goes back to the middle of the 19th century. They fill the bill perfectly as a classic apéritif, as well as being very flexible accompanists to a great many dishes.
In the meantime, alongside Sekt Austria (PDO), one encounters more frequently the Pétillant Naturel – PetNat for short – sparkling wines produced according to the Méthode Ancestrale. These wines often convey the flavour of pure primary fruit, are finely tart and reminiscent of good ciders; thanks to their modest carbon dioxide content, extended lees-aging and low alcohol content they are very refreshing indeed.
One very distinctive niche in the market is successfully occupied by the racy Schilcher Sekt from the Weststeiermark.
All of these sparklers acquit themselves admirably in the role of apéritif; then when combined with food, the carbon dioxide functions as an aromatic amplifier. Tried-and-true culinary partners for dry Sekt include smoked dishes, perhaps made from salmon or fresh-water fish like trout or arctic char, as well as canapés or tapas.