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Christmas, but properly!

How to combine wine and festive food.

Tips from the International Wine Business programme at IMC Krems by programme director, Dr. Albert Stöckl. Wine and Food Pairings, Tasting & Sensory are some of the many core courses of this internationally oriented wine and business degree programme.

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Wine and Food Pairings, Tasting & Sensory are some of the many components of this internationally oriented wine and business administration degree programme.

Why carp likes to swim in Riesling: Strong fish flavors need distinctive wines

The "Christmas carp" and other fish dishes are classics on the Christmas table. The custom goes back to the fact that in the past, the Christmas period up to Christmas Day was considered a period of fasting, during which no meat was allowed to be eaten. Therefore, fish was often served on Christmas Eve. This tradition is maintained in some regions to this day. Especially in eastern Austria.

Whether carp breaded, Serbian with noble sweet paprika or with garlic butter: all preparation methods have in common that they are more or less hearty and contain dominant flavors. This calls for a wine with a distinctive style and sufficient acid backbone.

Combination tip: Wines with acid backbone to the hearty fish.

We find both in the Wachau Riesling. The 1000-Eimer Berg from Domäne Wachau would be an ideal example. The 1000-Eimer Berg is a prominent elevation in Spitz.  This "Federspiel" presents itself with strikingly cool stylistics. It shows pronounced notes of peach, apricot and citrus. Its elegant, multi-layered body with a beautiful, harmonious finish goes perfectly with our fish.

When it comes to sausage at Christmas: The melting of Roter Veltliner with Bratwurst & Kraut.

Wine with sausage? There are fabulous "Wine and Food Pairings", as they say in the USA. We recommend an Austrian specialty - Roter Veltliner - with bratwurst with sauerkraut. This variety is the white parade variety in the Lower Austrian wine-growing region of Wagram.

Variety tip: Red Veltliner from Wagram/Austria

The Red Veltliner is neither directly related to the Green Veltliner, nor does it possess its character traits. The berries of the Red Veltliner turn reddish in the fall; the wine convinces with wonderful fruit and elegance on the one hand, and good "melting" on the other.

The Rote Veltliner Ried Mordthal from the winery Josef & Irene Fritz impresses with juice and power, which harmonizes excellently even with the "difficult" sauerkraut. Also, freshly torn horseradish or a spicy tarragon or "English" mustard, our Red Veltliner with its melting wraps with elegance and ease.

To melt away: Raclette - white or red with cheese

Cheese melting was already known in Valais in 1574. A winemaker from the Valais, Léon - so the legend goes - invented raclette.

In the French Alps in Savoie, the acidic Jaquère is often served with raclette. It grows in several AOC regions such as Apremont, Chignin and Abymes. In Switzerland, on the other hand, the very mild, low-acid Fendant is often used. In Germany and Austria it is called Gutedel. In Valais, it is called Chasselas. The Valais "Grand Cru" regions Dézalay as well as Calamin provide white wine with a lot of melting and very low acidity. Equally suitable for raclette are rather light, "silky" red wines, which should nevertheless have a lively acidity. For example, Pinot Noir from a cool region or a "slender" Blaufränkisch from the Leithaberg.

3 tips from Austria for raclette

  • Bründlmayer L&T - The Kamptaler presents itself in its playful lightness, with a delicate floral scent and subtle flavors of apple, citrus, peach and white pepper.
  • Domäne Baron Geymüller Chardonnay «Le Baron»  - The "Baron" of Philipp Geymüller and Charly Rol, a French oenologist, comes from Hollenburg, that small part of the Krems Valley clearly marked by limestone. The Chardonnay is fermented spontaneously, is not racked and is aged in Burgundian barriques.
  • Hans-Peter Harrers: Pinot Noir «Vom Kalk» - Impresses with its silky texture, with soft tannins, yet enormous liveliness. The biodynamically working "Natural Wine" winemaker, Hans-Peter Harrer from Neusiedl am See, stands for the renunciation of herbicides, fungicides and pesticides. The light-footed red forms a very special bond with the melted cheese - "Mariage" (marriage) is what the French say.

The classic: the Christmas goose - Unfiltered to roast goose

The goose belongs to the challenging dishes of a hobby cook. This already begins with the purchase of the correct and high-quality goose. It continues with the ideal cooking time and temperature. The timed preparation of the classic side dishes also requires fingertip and time sensitivity.

Exciting: the alternative to the "Dusty".

The unfiltered "Naked White" from Gernot and Heike Heinrich in Gols is a perfect match for the Christmas classic. Pinot Blanc & Chardonnay from limestone and slate give it creamy smoothness, while Welschriesling with lemon zest brings freshness into play. There are a total of eight varieties in this delightful "Staubiger substitute".

What is a “Staubiger”?

It's the step between already fermented grape juice and completely finished (filtered) wine. It's classically served with goose in Austria.

Good to know

Culinary traditions are held dear at Christmas in Austria. This was the conclusion reached in 2019 by both a representative IMAS study and a survey conducted by Marketagent on behalf of Merkur. Interestingly, it is mainly sweets that are eaten at Christmas. This is followed by classics such as fish, sausages, cold plates, raclette, fondue and poultry.

Marketagent also surveyed what Austrians like best and drink most often at Christmas: surprisingly, sparkling wine - sparkling wine, prosecco and champagne - is the most popular drink - more on that soon.

Study International Wine Business

Wine and Food Pairings are part of the sensory education in the International Wine Business bachelor degree program. The program combines oenology, sensory science and viticulture with business and economic aspects. Graduates can thus pursue a career on the national and international wine scene.


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