Budget Wines: Floriana Grüner Veltliner 2011

gruner veltliner There are over 5000 different varieties of wine grapes in the world. Yet, in the U.S., Cabernet and Chardonnay have over 25% of the market. Most wine drinkers stick to what is comfortable and familiar; and miss out on lots of flavor. So if you’re in a wine rut, head over to Trader Joe’s and pick up a couple bottles of this—at $6 you don’t have much to lose. For $6, this is a good wine.

Grüner Veltliner (pronounced “veltleener”)  is Austria’s most famous grape. Sommeliers have been predicting for several years that Grüner will be the next big thing in wine. I hope they’re better at picking stocks. But it is an interesting wine. A good one is very aromatic, like plunging your nose into a bowl of just-picked garden vegetables, with lots of minerality, crisp acidity and aging potential. It is one of the few wines that pairs well with vegetables.

The Floriana Grüner is not Austrian; it hails from across the border in Hungary. (Yes. They make terrific wines in Hungary) But it is quite representative of inexpensive Grüners—bright, crisp and refreshing. I lacks some of the characteristic pepper on the nose but it has some of the salad bowl thing going on, with lime and a pleasant, chalky, yet short-lived finish. Hints of fresh cut asparagus give the nose some interest. This version is a light bodied wine best paired with vegetables or fish.

This will not blow you away (I’ve never had a $6 wine that did). But it is a well-made bargain that will pull you out of that Chardonnay rut and give you some global cred for your next wine conversation.

Price: $6 at Trader Joe’s

Score: 85/100

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