//Tasting and Pairing Grüner Veltliner with Austrian Winemaker Rudi Rabl

Tasting and Pairing Grüner Veltliner with Austrian Winemaker Rudi Rabl


Why do sommeliers love Grüner Veltliner? How does this zesty white wine from Austria compare to Gewürztraminer and Riesling? Does it age well? What are the best food pairings?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Rudi Rabl, founder and winemaker at Austria’s Rabl Winery.

You can find the wines we discussed here.



  • What makes Grüner Veltliner such a flexible type of wine?
  • Which characteristic flavours will you taste in Grüner Veltliner?
  • Which dishes should you try pairing with Grüner Veltliner?
  • Can you pick up aromatic similarities between Gewürztraminer and Grüner Veltliner?
  • How is climate change affecting winemakers in Austria?
  • Why is it harder for you to find Grüner Veltliner in North America?
  • What should you look for when buying Grüner Veltliner?
  • Which appetizers could you pair with Grüner Veltliner?
  • How many different styles of Grüner Veltliner are available to you from Rabl?
  • What can you expect from Rabl St. Laurent, as an Austrian red wine?
  • What made the 2013 and 2015 vintages ones you’d particularly enjoy?
  • Why is Grüner Veltliner a great candidate to add to your cellar?
  • How did wild yeast lead to Rudi’s favourite moment in his winemaking career so far?
  • What is Rudi’s most memorable wine moment?


Key Takeaways

  • Austrian is a boutique wine producer, a country that makes less wine than the region of Bordeaux.
  • It’s great to know that we get the best wines in North America, as these tend to be exported rather than the more ordinary vin de table, especially since the country produces less than what its citizens consume on average each year.
  • Grüner Veltliner is such a versatile wine both stylistically and when it comes to food pairings. No wonder it’s a favourite of sommeliers.
  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We shouldn’t be afraid of acidity. What salt is to food, I find acidity is to wine. It brings forward the flavour of both the wine and the food.
  • One of the preservatives of wine is good acidity and Grüner Veltliner has it in spades so yes these wines can age well, though they’re also so vibrant and fresh when young.


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About Rudi Rabl

Rudi Rabl is proud of the family tradition of his winery, dating back to 1750. The love for nature and grapes, the ecological work in the vineyard with herbal plants and the knowledge of the professional processing ensure an excellent quality of the different types of wine. In the cellar, modernity is combined with traditional values. Ecology is an important factor and the winery has been certified as “Sustainable Austria” since 2015. Among the highlights of the awards in recent years is the “White Wine Maker of the Year” 2019 at IWSC in London, the two Decanter Trophy Winners Grüner Veltliner Dechant and Riesling Steinhaus, as well as the 2017 regional winner in the Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc categories. In addition, the winery was awarded “Winery of the Year” in Kamptal.




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Rudi Rabl 0:00
Nunavut Lena is able to deliver from an entry level wind but it can move up to and really full bodied really concentrated, but also elegant wine. You can also make an ice mine or and talking Bella Knowsley said keep a so that they know you have the full range of all the possibilities.

Natalie MacLean 0:24
So in styles and sweetness and weight and so on now, one descriptor I’ve heard is white pepper is that typical of gruner Veltliner and why would that be? If so,

Rudi Rabl 0:36
it is the peppery pays, you’ll find very often in the Guna, but you find also a lot of other spices, minnows, but you have also yellow fruits, bone broth, and which type of soil it grows. That makes a huge difference in stylize.

Natalie MacLean 1:00
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations? That’s the blend here on the unreserved wine talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie MacLean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please. And let’s get started. Welcome to Episode 113. Why do Somalis love gruner Veltliner How does this zesty white wine from Austria compared to say converts demeanour and Riesling? Does it? Ah well, and what are the best food pairings for it? That’s exactly what you’ll discover. In this episode of The unreserved wine talk podcast. I’m chatting with Rudy rebel who owns a family run winery in Austria that’s been making wine for 12 generations, including incredible gruner Veltliner. This conversation took place on my Facebook Live video show several years ago, so please keep that in mind as the context for Rudy’s comments. In the shownotes, you’ll find links to the wines we tasted the video version of this chat and a full transcript. How you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class and where you can find me on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube Live video every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash 113. Now on a personal note, before we dive into the show, Myles will be watching football downstairs this weekend while I watch your honour on HBO upstairs. That is such a good show. The only thing I know about football is that Tom Brady is gorgeous. He’s a tight end, right? Okay, so I know he’s a quarterback. And I also know how to pair wine with game or movie snacks. What about you? What will you be watching this weekend? I’d love to hear from you. tag me on social media at Natalie MacLean on Facebook or Twitter or on Instagram. I’m at Natalie MacLean wine. Okay, on with the show.

We are going to explore the ultimate wine for spring. It’s fresh, it’s crisp. It’s gruner Veltliner Yes, I know that’s a mouthful, but you need to know this line if you want to maximise your pleasure this spring. And we have one of the best people one of the best producers to talk about gruner Veltliner. He’s joining us from Austria. Welcome Rudy rebel.

Rudi Rabl 3:58
Hello. Hi, God. Oh, hello.

Natalie MacLean 4:01
Well, thank you, Rudy, for being here with us. We really appreciate you joining us. So let’s kick it off actually with you, Rudy, before we dive into gruner Veltliner spring parents and all kinds of things. Kate, you remember the moment when you first realised that you wanted to become a winemaker.

Rudi Rabl 4:20
Now, it said a long time ago, we make it in 17 years old, tremulous, long in the bank business and every bond gotta be the mother milk, the business from generation to generation. But I remember when I was with my grandfather and helped him to bring the grapes from the trailer to the breasts. That was really my first impression. And then he gave me a glass of the fresh press twos and that was really remember the first time

Natalie MacLean 4:53
so is that taste of that fresh pressed juice and you thought, wow, that’s something special and I want to be involved in that.

Unknown Speaker 5:00

Natalie MacLean 5:00
there is usually a moment isn’t it? And it’s often when we taste something, whether it’s wine or in your case as a child with fresh juice, that’s lovely. So what number generation? Did you mention of your family? Are you in terms of being a winemaker at 1212? Wow. Okay, so when did the family start making wire within the

Rudi Rabl 5:19
750 70 million dp? Yeah.

Natalie MacLean 5:23
Amazing. Wow, that must be quite a history. And do you have siblings who are also involved in the wine industry or the winery

Rudi Rabl 5:31
a little bit, my my wife. My wife is in the winery. My son start in autumn bit by mega school, and my father is still still also working in the winery. It’s always a family business.

Natalie MacLean 5:45
Okay, so let’s get into gruner Veltliner because it’s a wine that I think not everyone knows. I mean, if you’re really passionate about wine and you’d like to explore for us in North America, I should say, I’m sure in Europe, it’s much better known and certainly not sure. But for us in North America, it’s one thing to just even pronounce the name of this wine, but it’s another thing to be familiar with it. So gruner Veltliner, I’m holding up one of your many vineyard editions, can you describe what this wine tastes like?

Rudi Rabl 6:17
I can describe how this special disc of but it’s not easy to describe the tone of Athena in general, because they’re gonna wet Lena is is one bribe, but is able to deliver from a simple wine and basic wine and entry level wine but your drink fresh and fruity on the tourists, but it can move up to and really full bodied, really content rated, and, but also elegant way. You can also make a nice line or and talk about a nosebleed at bay. So

Natalie MacLean 6:55
the degree of Athena you have the whole range of all the possibilities, but you can do with the granola. Alright, so in styles and sweetness and weight, and so on. Now, one descriptor I’ve heard, really, but let me know what you think is white pepper. Is that typical of gruner Veltliner and why would that be if so?

Rudi Rabl 7:17
I can’t say why this but it is the peppery taste you find very often in Indiana, but you find also a lot of other spices in beneath the nose. But you have also very, very frustrated with yellow fruits, bone broth, but that’s where it grows in which places which type of soil it grows. That makes a huge difference in teilweise sure, and

Natalie MacLean 7:43
it’s such a versatile line. What are some of your favourite food pairings with gruner Veltliner

Rudi Rabl 7:49
is Australian I have to say abena schnitzel oh yeah because that because that they bring out Swedish but I prefer going a bit in also to a lot of Asian dishes that you can play with the with the spices, but always good with the variable.

Natalie MacLean 8:07
So I guess because it has that natural spice character when you say spice people try to understand what that means and why do you mean sort of the lighter spices that also come through diverts demeanour like the light lighter? I don’t know baking spices are not made white pepper. How can people understand what spice is in gruner Veltliner,

Rudi Rabl 8:29
you said give us Romina. And that’s correct the right direction. Because we know that Nina is crossing between a booster Amina Amina is the mother and they are seeking for a long time for the power and the power in small village in Bergen law that on the east for the twinery they found in the village bond clan, then they found the bother and so it’s a little bit familiar to the image but

Natalie MacLean 8:59
I actually didn’t realise that. So it’s a cross between giver tuner and another vine. So it would have some aromatic similarities with Gilbert’s demeanour, then those spicy characters and so on. I just find it very, very food friendly. I mean, when you get crisp acidity and we shouldn’t be afraid of acidity, it’s kind of what salt is to food I find acidity is to wine, it brings forward the flavour of both the wine and the food. But it’s just ultimately so food friendly in terms of from seafood and shellfish to vegetarian. I can’t think of many dishes that wouldn’t go with a grid of Atlanta other than perhaps maybe a big juicy steak, something like that. So really one of the challenges of making wine in Austria, it’s a cool climate. But what is particularly challenging about making wine in Austria,

Rudi Rabl 9:48
but bc the last years is the climate change. In one way. It’s good for us because we are really a cool climate, country and Climate change, we have an earlier Pac spring. So the shots start early with throwing. And then we have some late frost, like this year. And that’s always a little bit of a challenge. But the problem is in general with by growing here, but with the climate change, it is better and better as for the right thing for the right, because

Natalie MacLean 10:23
you’re getting longer, right. In a season. It’s getting warmer. Yeah. And what does it really frosted? What happens then? What damage or what’s the downside of an early frost for you?

Rudi Rabl 10:34
Yeah, they missed some punches. This year. They had a nice spring. Last year, we had some region they lost up to 40 50% Oh, wow. 50% Wow, that’s

Natalie MacLean 10:45
a lot. Why don’t you think gruner Veltliner is better known in North America? Is it just because of the small production and it’s traditionally been mostly consumed in Austria or Europe? Or is it because of just trying to pronounce it in a store and ask for it? why don’t more people know about gruner Veltliner?

Rudi Rabl 11:04
It’s simple. We produce here in Austria, less than one person of the whole world by market. Oh, wow. Okay, so in real we produce nothing, we have no say around 45,000 Hector’s that’s less than four dough. But on the other hand, they’re gonna get leaner, really? In Europe, and really well known for idle. And also in us, the big cities, you find a lot of restaurants a lot of wine shops, that you find the grill vetrina

Natalie MacLean 11:37
Yes, it seems to have suddenly some of us love this wine, especially to

Rudi Rabl 11:42
find the restaurants because it’s so poop friendly. And I tried things like the things that it doesn’t for that I bring this wine also to Canada to explain but brunette Athena is and to show it by pasting.

Natalie MacLean 11:59
And what’s the mark of a fine gruner Veltliner? How do we know we hit on a good one? How would you say you need to look for this, this and this are something that marks really good gruner Veltliner.

Rudi Rabl 12:10
I think if you go to the monopoly shops in Canada, you can pick evergreen a bit cleaner, because only they could bind. So in export, the basic binds are always in the country, and bigger wineries or the wineries debarkation. They also go in export different export markets they sell and so I think there’s not really a bad buy in in in one of the Canadian stores.

Natalie MacLean 12:40
That’s good to know. It’s reassuring. Yeah, it is a small section small but mighty and growing. I don’t know if you know offhand how fast Austrian wine sales are growing in North America. It’s okay if you don’t I just surprising you with that question. Sorry. But it must be healthy growth that you’re experiencing, giving the efforts that I’ve been seeing with Austrian wines here in the country. Do you know how quickly Austrian wines are growing as a category either in Canada or North America?

Rudi Rabl 13:07
It’s not really growing and in a really big can grow too much because the Australian people are so tradition they bring 80% Austrian wine. So the domestic market is really a strong market for US market and be freakin ostra around 30 litre and the little bit 8 million people that means 2.4 million hectoliters wine, and that’s exactly the average what we produce. So all what we export, we have to import and it became grow each year with one 2% then it’s a good way you’re happy. Okay,

Natalie MacLean 13:53
so you drink 80% of it. That’s a lot like a lot of wine regions. Even here in Canada, BC. It’s one of the reasons we can get a lot of BC wines here in Ontario. It’s because they’re drinking at home or a lot of it, but that’s fine. That’s good. It’s an artisanal small boutique category that’s growing slowly but surely. So Steven is asking it’s very easy to drink. What appetiser Rudy would you suggest to best pair with gruner Veltliner he’s looking for appetiser ideas

Rudi Rabl 14:21
for appetiser or appetiser. We have special appetisers in Australia, be all day, some greens, but big hit on the breath. Right? bond is called lip tower that with cheese with some paprika, it’s red coloured and appetiser also with salad because the acidity of the vulnerability in a box open very well. There’s a lot.

Natalie MacLean 14:50
Yeah, that would be a good parallel. Yeah, absolutely. I would think just in that family of fresh herbal, crisp white wines like Southern yamame but gruner About the internet certainly be up there for fresh field greens. And Steven is back. He’s really determined to figure out all kinds of pairings, Rudy, he’s wondering, would it go with a nice white fish simply prepared? Yeah, that would be all right whenever Stephens making me hungry and Rudy, you’re making me thirsty. So I should try this one. Now how many different gruner Veltliner do you make? Because I see your I assume is that a vineyard designation under

Rudi Rabl 15:30

Unknown Speaker 15:31
Yes, I put it up close here. Yeah,

Rudi Rabl 15:33
that’s I don’t know what Lena Spiegel but I make in general 12 different Grenoble cleaner. Oh, wow. That starts with a restaurant ban. But we sell to some restaurants in the Bondi proposal. But very famous is in Australia is all the spritzer that it’s a mix between a half by and half sparkling water, okay, and you don’t mind that? Oh, I I prefer to do much better than beer. If I’m thirsty. That’s really, really traditional. Oh, and for the spritzer to take the ocean. Then I have different vineyards. So we want to make it in categories. I have the capital Pac. So that’s the domestic line from different vineyards from more villages. And then the next step, I have a criminal Medina and those codes of arson. This is a vine it grows on different terraces, terraces with different type of soil. So I have some lush terraces sandela soil, but I use also some fruits from Prime raw process.

Natalie MacLean 16:42
Okay, so sandy loam isn’t that mixed vine roots suffer, right? They kind of have to search deep down for that water and those nutrients.

Rudi Rabl 16:52
Correct? Yeah. Okay. Then I have the village find that the landlords, landlords is the village or wineries. It’s the centre of the Council. And then it starts with some single vineyard wines, like you have in your gas they printed with an HPV speaker make, really for only for my age in Ontario, nothing there is surf category in the classic style category. And all the other seniors are then in their reserved category. The moment for different capabilities that the most famous chicken BK and Greece are back with the name of the village.

Natalie MacLean 17:36
Okay. Wow. That’s great. And now Austria is not really well known for red lines. So tell us about stable. Ron, is this another cross between two groups we might be more familiar with or is it? immediate?

Rudi Rabl 17:51
survival. But SR AR is one partner of the most popular Austrian red band that’s begun. Yes, yeah. Go, go. Go. There’s a crossing between la Frankish and St. Louis wrong.

Unknown Speaker 18:08
Okay. Well, thank

Unknown Speaker 18:09
you. So,

Natalie MacLean 18:10
these are names that many of us are not familiar with. But we need to get to know how would you compare Cimarron? You’ve got one there with you. I think. What kind of style? Is it? Medium body? Is it? How would you decide

Rudi Rabl 18:23
if it’s medium bodied?

Unknown Speaker 18:25

Rudi Rabl 18:26
this one, I have it more on the protein side. Without Oh is medium bodied. I think it’s an alcohol. I think it’s a vine style. But you also can drink in the summer. A little bit chilly, not too warm, not too cold. So with their own wanting to decrease. I think it’s also a nice summer wine. Because it’s written. It’s a little bit familiar with the Pinot Noir.

Natalie MacLean 18:53
It is it is it’s fresh and fruity and not heavy. And you know, as we go into the summer months here and in Europe, and the weather heats up, the last thing you want is high alcohol in your glass. So it’s quite nice. And you know, as you say, you can even serve it just with a slight chill on it for better refreshing. And I think too, we sometimes do that. So Lynn has joined us. And she’s asking you, Rudy, what’s the best year in the last decade?

Rudi Rabl 19:21
Which vintage? Yes. 2013 because this was structure complexity, and really a good acidity, and also 2015. Maybe from the success, it’s more 2015 for the quality and you want to store a couple of years. I think it’s 2013. If you want to keep agree with Nina for 1525 years, I think it’s perfect, perfect. Well, and

Natalie MacLean 19:52
we don’t always think about ageing white wines in general for a long time. But of course, one of the preservatives of wine is good acidity. This certainly gruner Veltliner has it in spades So, but hearing you say 1520 years this could last what happens is gruner ages does it become muddy or what comes out as it matures? 20 years on what will this taste like?

Rudi Rabl 20:14
The yellow rose but the beauty of it No, that was more in the back. And the influence of this soil comes more in the front was the blend stone more than minerality more modest characters was in the front. It’s funny always they also produce a lot of Riesling and when I take for my winner take a photo all those arrived reasoning and they’re right by Bruno Ballina from the same year then the people are always surprised that they gruner that Lena is always better, homeless fresher, recently shows then it’s 10 1520 years old, they put right there the petrol pays, and then they’re gonna clean is really cool.

Natalie MacLean 20:58
That’s an interesting comparison between Riesling and gruner Veltliner Rudy a few questions to sort of wrap up our segment. What is kind of your most memorable winemaking experience at the beginning of our conversation, you describe that moment when you first tasted the juice as a child, that was lovely. But in your years of winemaking, is there a particular moment that has stood out for you?

Rudi Rabl 21:21
There’s definitely fan and particular moment, it was in the year 2006. I send it over dinner from the kippah back to the decanter. And it was my after school, I come home and we’ll use a lot of yeast to make mine and the different type of yeast you can make this and that that. And my father My grandfather said What should we do with the yeast he told me they use it always fermented from alone and that’s wasted money. And, and I tried different things and those four I made the step back with a little bit cleaner keep a bag without ease without you and without is so bad presentation. And so you

Natalie MacLean 22:14
depended on just so for folks who are not familiar with this, a wild geese that just sort of settled on the juice to ferment it instead of adding your own yeast. Yes,

Rudi Rabl 22:23
yes. Okay. And I send this vine too long to the decanter became dobro wine abroad. And bond in the first step the best Austrian Runa Widener and the second in the second step it was then the best buy wine in the world from and, and the phone, but I don’t expect Riesling and Chardonnay until

Natalie MacLean 22:48
that’s great. What a great experiment. And do you continue with wildebeest

Rudi Rabl 22:52
absolute absolute? From this moment I made more and more. And I think that’s a good way. Yeah, it

Natalie MacLean 23:00
really shows the land the terroir, use a buzzword, but really shows it expresses the soil and so on. So, Rudy, thank you so much for being here with us. We really appreciate especially since it’s midnight, your time. So thank you your real sport for joining us here. Thank you, Rudy, and good luck with this year’s harvest.

Rudi Rabl 23:21
Natalie, thank you for inviting me for this chat. And I’m sure this year I have no other time. But next year, I want to come back to Canada. And I hope I met a lot of people. There are some big things and I’ll let you know. When I come

Natalie MacLean 23:40
please do. That would be wonderful. And we look forward to tasting more here wines. Okay, okay. Thank

Rudi Rabl 23:45
you. Okay, bye, bye.

Natalie MacLean 23:53
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Rudy Ravel. Here are my takeaways. Number one, Austria is a bowtique wine producer, a country that makes less wine than the region of Bordeaux.

It’s great to know that we get the best wines in North America, as well as other regions that get Austrian exports, as these tend to be exported rather than the ordinary Vantage tab, especially since the country produces less than what its citizens consume on average each year. Three gruner Veltliner is such a versatile wine both stylistically and when it comes to food pairings. No wonder it is a favourite of some ways. For I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. We shouldn’t be afraid of acidity. What salt is to food. acidity is to wine, it brings forward flavour in both the wine and the food. And five what are the preservatives of why is good acidity and gruner has it in spades. So yes, these wines can age well They’re also very vibrant and fresh when they’re young. In the shownotes, you’ll find links to the wines we tasted the video version of this chat and a full transcript. How you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class, and where you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube Live video every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at Natalie mcclain.com forward slash 113. You won’t want to miss next week when I’m going solo to talk about seduction wines for Valentine’s Day. Plus the rising level of alcohol in wine overall and how it affects our palates, minds and bodies. In the meantime, if you missed Episode 81 go back and take a listen. I chat with another Austrian winemaker Heidi Marie fafo about gruner Veltliner and other wines that her family owned winery produces. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.

Heidi Fisher Pfaffl 25:58
Bruner can be so versatile. You can have Bruner that’s lively and fresh. But you also can find quite rich and full body burners. That some how reminds you of Chardonnay. We often have tastings of old Carnival cleaners. Yes. In comparison to old burgundy wines. And it’s often hard to find the difference.

Natalie MacLean 26:19
So the age well, because they’ve got the acidity, which is one of the ageing elements.

Heidi Fisher Pfaffl 26:23
Yes, but also, not all of them are the same. You have some very full bodied rich ones that age we were the reserve styles, but you also have this easy drinking lively fresh burners. They are really made for pre ranking Yeah.

Natalie MacLean 26:42
If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it this week, especially someone you know who be interested in the tips that Rudy shared. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a zesty gruner Veltliner paired with wienerschnitzel

you don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash subscribe, maybe here next week. Cheers.