I think there is a certain trepidation that ensues when it comes to trying wines with complex names and labels. Thats why I love this lineup of Austrian wines we are tasting this friday at Meza. This younger generation of Austrian wine makers have not only studied wine making techniques all over the world, bringing to their wines a modern approach and a focus on quality – but they are also not afraid to poke a little fun at themselves. The labels are fun and laid back, playing off the complicated names of the Austrian grape varietals.

The wines are affordable and approachable – and some of the best and most innovative wines to come out of that region. Chefs and foodies beware – these wines pair so easily with such a variety of dishes that you will be scrambling to pick some up for your next dinner party.

“Gelt” Zweigelt Classic 2008 ( from Winzerkeller Neckenmarkt)

Zweigelt??! Possibly a bit difficult to pronounce, so wine makers Josef Tesch and Gerald Wieder named this wine and its funny character “Gelt”. Great label – and a really friendly wine. Food friendly that is. This is a bright, fresh red wine with red cherry and red berry flavors and some black pepper spice on the finish. This is a great sort of casual wine to serve with an antipasto style platter of meats and cheeses.

Heinrich “Red” 2007 ( from Weingut Gernot and Heike Heinrich)

I love this bold label on this red blend…..now don’t get confused. This isn’t a Cab, Zin or Merlot blend. This is an exciting blend of   Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent – all Austrian varietals. A bit deeper in color with lots of black and red cherry on the palate and a good acidity that makes it super food friendly.

Lois Gruner Veltliner 2008 ( from Weingut Fred Loimer)

Whether you call it Gruner Veltliner or Gru – Vee, this Austrian white wine is gaining in popularity with the foodie crowd. Totally unique – we’re talking dry, with fresh apple and fruit on the palate and a spicy component mixed in. Refreshing and vibrant. This is a classic wine to pair with any sort of green veggie dishes – particularly with asparagus. Think asparagus and leek quiche….mmmm.