Top 5 food and wines to try in Austria

One of the most stunning countries in Europe, Austria produces a delicious and diverse range of cuisine and high quality wines.

For many centuries, Austria was the centre of the Habsburg Empire, which also included Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Croatia, other parts of the former Yugoslavia and parts of Germany and Italy. As a result of the history, Austrian cuisine has been influenced by many other countries in the region, and as well as uniquely Austrian dishes, you will also find adaptations of Hungarian, German and other dishes on the Austrian menu.

The top 5 food and wines to try in Austria include:

Wiener schnitzel

Translated literally from the German, “Wiener schnitzel” means “Viennese cutlet”. The dish is made by taking a thin strip of meat, dipping it into wheat flour, eggs and bread crumbs, and then deep frying. The traditional meat for Wiener schnitzel is veal, but nowadays, other meats such as pork or turkey are sometimes used. The traditional accompaniments for Wiener schnitzel are potato salad and a slice of lemon.

Goulash

Goulash is a traditional Hungarian dish (but has also been adopted by Austrians), which is made by slowly simmering chunks of beef (shoulder, shin or shank) in water or stock. Goulash is flavoured with paprika and herbs, and contains chopped onions, peppers, a little tomato or tomato juice, and sometimes potatoes. Although made as a soup, during the cooking process, the collagen in the meat turns to gelatin, which results in a very thick stew-like texture.

Knodel

Knodel is definitely one of the top 5 foods to try in Austria. These are Austrian dumplings which may be eaten as a side dish, or served with soup. There are several different varieties including potato dumplings (“kartoffelknodel”), dumplings made from dry bread (“semmelknodel”), and a version with bacon added (speckknodel”).

Cakes and pastries

Vanillekipferl is a traditional Viennese biscuit and should be on anyone’s list of the top 5 foods and wine to try in Austria. Vanillekipferl are crescent-shaped (supposedly to celebrate one of the Habsburg Empire’s military victories over the Ottoman Turks, flavored with vanilla, and contain nuts (hazelnuts or almonds).

Other favourite sweet foods include: Apple Strudel, Pancakes filled with jam and dusted with sugar and chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam and dark chocolate icing.

Austrian wines

Vienna is the only national capital in the world with an economically significant wine industry within its city limits. Some 400 wine growers work the 1730 acres, producing a range of wines from great to drinkable, the latter being enjoyed mixed with sparkling mineral water and called G’Spritzr, which is bought in wine-gardens known as Heurige.

Almost all of the wine produced in the vineyards of Vienna is used to slake the thirst of the Viennese, with only very small amounts being exported. This Heurige culture dates back to the time of Charlemagne, but was officially recognized in 1784 by Emperor Josef II. Today there are about 180 licensed Heurige in Vienna, and there is nothing quite as enjoyable as a summer afternoon spent outside at a long Heurige table, drinking the local wine and tasting the local foods.

If you are planning to visit Austria, the best way to sample the delicious local food and wines is to book a guided gastronomic tour before you leave home.