Grüner Veltliner — sure, it sounds like some kind of Viennese rail system — but the Austrian white wine varietal has been popular stateside for well over a decade.
Check your fridge, you may already have one laying on its side, playing possum as a sauvignon blanc — a forgotten party gift handed off during the hurly-burly of your most recent soiree. This was my recent experience as I noshed on a grilled chicken burrito smothered in a velvety mole sauce and realized I was out of beer. I took a chance on the neglected bottle because I apparently can’t eat anything without an adult beverage pairing and was pleasantly surprised.
At a relatively inexpensive $17, The 2021 Grüner Veltliner by S. Pratsch is a zippy, citrusy charmer that boasts crisp acidity and minerality not to mention bright, lime-like notes that offer a a natural balance to the piquant sauce.
The mole in question (note, that’s mole as in “rhymes with olé” not the visually-impaired rodent of the same spelling) was technically a mole negro, a style was originally developed in Oaxaca that includes chili peppers, garlic, and chocolate, and found its way to my burrito via Petaluma’s Mi Pueblo El Centro.
The deep, smoky chocolate flavors of the sauce were beautifully balanced by the palate-tingling wine, which hails from Niederösterreich (a.k.a. Lower Austria). It’s certified organic and it’s vegan (winemaker Stefan Pratsch uses pea and potato products to fine the wine rather than gelatin, which, in Europe, is most often derived from pig skin).
The grüner is eminently drinkable at 12% alcohol and is fruit-forward with a touch of apple, peach, and apricot, and will continue to mature until about 2025. But don’t wait. Order a burrito drenched in mole, unscrew this grüner, and enjoy two great tastes together at last. Prost!