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It’s Sturm Time! Mahlzeit!

This is one Sturm you don’t want to let pass you by.

Sturm is a dangerous drink. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But don’t let that stop you.

Bottles of Sturm at Karmeliter Market in Vienna's 2nd District

Bottles of Sturm at Karmeliter Market in Vienna’s 2nd District

For a very brief period, usually from the end of September until mid-October is Sturmzeit, or Sturm time, the only time of year the drink called Sturm (Federweiss in Germany) is available.  Because of rapid fermentation (which could cause the bottle to explode if corked), Sturm cannot be stored and must be consumed within a few days (or hours, depending on your mood and your company).  However, wine farmers will often put loose foil caps on the bottles, not to prevent spillage, but rather party-happy fruit flies from having their own little get together in your drink.

But what is Sturm? Sturm is a young wine that is basically fermented freshly pressed grape juice. And that’s exactly what it tastes and feels like you’re drinking – carbonated grape juice. So even though the alcohol content tends to be rather low, (beginning at 1%), you tend to drink more than you would a wine (or maybe you drink more because it is often served in a glass with a handle rather than a stem). Whatever the reason, you really do tend to drink more.

Viennese grapes

Viennese grapes at the Market

And the ultimate way to enjoy Sturm?

Collect a few of your favorite most-trustworthy people in this world (folks who won’t hold it against you if you succumb to a Sturm-induced euphoria involving Austrian folk songs and dance), don your Dirndl or Lederhosen, then head to the outskirts of town, to Neustift am Walde, Salmannsdorf, Nussdorf, Grinzing, Strebersdorf or Stammersdorf. Next take a leisurely stroll through the vineyards, on a route that will land you at a table of your favorite Heuriger (winery) where you can enjoy the house’s own homemade Sturms. Then eat, drink and merry.

A bottle of red and white Sturm

A bottle of red and a bottle of white, Billy Joel style

White Sturm in Glass

Sturm freshly served and still bubbling

Some insider tips: Try not to be too loud until the Viennese start singing and then it’s okay. All cultural barriers tend to break down about that point and you would be amazed how fluent your German becomes. Regardless of the level of euphoric, avoid the temptation to break out in Sound of Music medleys. The Austrians won’t know them and aren’t bound to be too impressed. But if you want to show how culturally adept you are, rather than saying “Prost” when toasting, say “Mahlzeit” (like “Guten Appetit”). And of course, an offer to buy the next round, never hurt international relations.

Oh yeah, and look for the wine branch hanging over the door of the entrance of the winery – this means they are open for business.

How I love a good Sturm.

And you will too.

Hiking through Vienna's vineyards with view of city in background

Hiking through Vienna’s vineyards with view of city in background

 

Some Heurige I can recommend – but there are so many good ones don’t limit yourself to this list. Be adventurous.

Weinhof Zimmermann

Buschenschank Wolff

Wiener Heurige Buschenschank Friseurmüller (highly recommend the homemade Schaumrollen here (lady fingers we called them in PA).

Top 5 Heuriger according to from Austrian newspaper, Kurier, in form of slideshow – just click on button marked “weiter” to see all five, address and contact info below slide: Kurier’s Top Heurige in 2013 -

Here are the ones they selected: (1) Kierlinger, (2) Zawodsky, (3) Stift St. Peter, (4) Göbel, (5) Mayer am Pfarrplatz in Beethoven House

Some lovely walks through the vineyards:

Two maps of lovely vineyard walks from the Vienna city government (with some English translations I’ve added).

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Vienna Vineyard

Vienna Vineyard

Vienna Neustift am Walde and Nussdorf Vineyard Hiking Map courtesy of the City of Vienna with Eng. translations courtesy of me

Vienna Neustift am Walde and Nussdorf Vineyard Hiking Map courtesy of the City of Vienna with Eng. translations courtesy of me

Vienna Strebersdorf-Stammersdorf Vineyard Hiking Map courtesy of the City of Vienna with Eng. translations courtesy of me

Vienna Strebersdorf-Stammersdorf Vineyard Hiking Map courtesy of the City of Vienna with Eng. translations courtesy of me

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