Past the chardonnay, beyond the bottles of sauvignon blanc and rows of riesling, lies an incredible array of white wine varieties. Ever toasted with a catarratto? Celebrated with a sercial? Here we explore two less-known white grapes – grüner veltliner and glera.
Known as the signature grape of Austria, grüner veltliner accounts for one in every three grape vines grown in that country. Unlike many whites, grüner veltliner is generally fermented in stainless steel and only rarely in oak, allowing its spicy nose and refreshing, crisp taste to power through. Though often imbibed young, a good grüner can easily mature for a decade or more. Its taste ranges from light and lemony to vibrant and smoky, depending on where the grape is grown and when it is picked.
Pronounced: GROO-ner velt-LEEN-er (Gru-Ve for short, though this may earn disapproving looks in some circles)
Known for: its broad food-pairing abilities
Why you should try it: Shocking the wine world, it recently bested top-rated chardonnays from blue-chip wineries in a series of blind tastings.
SARAH MAYO, founder and managing director of The Local Nose:
Know of any good grüners in Singapore?
We recommend Huber Grüner Veltliner and the less-expensive Malat Grüner Veltliner. Both are from top regions in Austria and are premium wines – not cheap quaffers! Bottles run from $45 to $68, which is excellent value for this quality.
What sets grüner veltliner apart?
It brings both substance and subtlety to the glass. Grüners offer wonderfully delicate floral aromas with a whiff of white pepper, and then hit the palate with impressive fruit concentration, nervy acidity and a spicy, medium-bodied mouthfeel. It’s almost as if the taste doesn’t match the aroma. Very interesting, in a good way!
How is it best enjoyed?
The best quality grüners are capable of bottle evolution, but generally speaking, these wines can be enjoyed young and un-decanted. Grüner is well suited to the Singapore climate because its acidity cuts through thirst, making it an excellent aperitif. But grüners are best enjoyed as food wines, since they hold their own against many competing flavours.
I have one bottle at home. What should I serve for dinner?
Asian food, particularly Chinese.
Never heard of glera? Chances are you have tasted it. Until 2009, this grape was almost universally referred to as prosecco. Mainly grown in the Veneto region of Italy, glera is used to produce still (tranquillo), semi-sparkling (frizzante) and fully sparkling (spumante) wines. Glera wines and proseccos are light, intensely aromatic and, as the Italians would say asciutto, very refreshing to the palate. They should be enjoyed young and not kept longer than two years.
Name change: Frustrated Veneto producers didn’t take kindly to winemakers from Australia to Brazil using the prosecco grape to produce and market “Prosecco” wines. (Paris Hilton’s Austrian brand of “Prosecco-in-a-can” didn’t help matters.) In 2009, Italian legislators agreed. Similar to champagne’s regional requirements, all bottles now labelled “Prosecco” must meet strict production and regional (namely, the Conegliano – Valdobbiadene zone) requirements. All others are now known as “glera”.
Why you should try it: Unlike champagne, secondary fermentation is done using the charmat process, meaning the bubbles are added to the wine before it is bottled, rather than in the bottle itself. This allows these wines to be sold at lower prices.
Hilda Dimasi, co-partner of Good Wines Online:
Any recommendations for a particularly tasty prosecco?
We love the delicate bubbles and creamy taste of Riondo Prosecco. It is not like sparkling wine or champagne – it is a much different style of wine. Even the packaging is indicative that it is a little bit different.
Where is it made?
It is a traditional Italian Prosecco, so it’s made from grapes grown in the Veneto hills, an area well known for quality wine and a vibrant foodie scene.
Can you describe the taste?
The Prosecco Spago has a lovely fine, fresh and aromatic taste. The lower alcohol content of 10.5 percent makes it a refreshing aperitif. The Prosecco Raboso is slightly sweeter – it’s delicate on your tongue and reaches different taste buds. It is such a hit when we introduce it to people, and it matches perfectly with foods that are slightly sweet, like strawberries or dark chocolate.
What is the price?
Both the Prosecco Spago and the Prosecco Raboso are $25 a bottle.
A Riondo Prosecco is perfect for an evening …
…..sitting outside with friends enjoying easy drinks and different flavours.