Drink and eat now, articulate later.
It’s pronounced exactly how you think it is — Gru-ner Velt-LEEN-er. The German rolls off your tongue, thanks to the Germanic roots of our English language. Grüner Veltliner is arguably one of the most food-friendly white wines out here, as well as a great value — sometimes sold at ridiculously low prices. Thought you’d like that one, Mr. Debt Ceiling.
The number one complaint I hear from friends who get lost in the world of wine is just that — they are lost. Confused by the French/Italian/German languages slapped on the bottle and wary about what they might choose with wasted, empty hands stuffed in their pockets. To that, I say loosen up and take the risk to enjoy something new. Grüner Veltliner is one such opportunity to do so.
Grown in Austria, Grüner is the main grape variety (white and red) of its homeland. More than 42,000 acres are used to grow wine grapes in the northeast region of the country — this accounts for one-third of Austria’s domestic wine production. Experts say Grüner closely resembles the texture and richness of Chardonnay, that famous, aged white Burgundy that is often referred to as the great white wine of France.
To bring it home, Grüner is being cautiously planted in our fair state, though our Oregonian neighbors have grown the grape since 1981.
Although it comes in a range of styles, Grüner is usually crisp and pure in its flavors of melon and five different spices, which makes it especially minerally approachable and complimentary of Asian-influenced food. Few Asian restaurants can slip by without having the wine on their list and chef Eric Bahn’s latest Capitol Hill venture will not be one to miss out.
The Restaurant: Ba Bar Seattle — Bahn’s tribute to Saigon street food and the freshest entry in his Capitol Hill Vietnamese block party (see Monsoon for clay-pot fish and Baguette Box for bahn mi that will change your life). The Seattle University campus eatery narrows its focus on a menu of appetizers, from crispy egg rolls and dumplings to phở soups and noodle bowls.
The Dish: Grilled prawn vermicelli bowl. Fresh wild prawn, crispy imperial roll, shredded lettuce, peanut, mint and, of course, noodles. Little bit of sweet, a little bit of spice and a whole lot of awesome in a bowl for only $13.
The Grape Variety: Grüner Veltliner. Austria’s signature white wine can be summed up in a few words — dry, peppery, cool and clean.
Why It Works: This white is possibly one of the only wines on the market that goes well with green vegetables, such as asparagus, green beans and, in this case, the lettuce and ribboned veggies in the spring roll. The soothing dry spices and acidic coolness of the wine tackles the heat of the sauce, while the melon and grapefruit win over the prawns to drive the earthy flavors of the dish.
The Recommended Match: Kurt Angerer 2008 Kies Grüner Veltliner ($15). Bright with gravelly notes, the grapefruit, melon and spice tones are the driving force with touches of apple and crisp acidity.
How bad do you want that noodle bowl with some Grüner? No need to worry — Ba Bar is open from 7 p.m. to (at least) 2 a.m. on most days.
Ba Bar| 550 12th Ave., Seattle | (206) 328-2030