Zweigelt is the most planted red variety in Austria. It’s a lighter red wine, similar to Grenache or Gamay. Since it’s a cool climate red, it will often have a slightly bitter note on the finish. Despite the fact that most Zweigelt is on the affordable side, there are a few age-worthy examples that give off rich cherry flavors with a touch of oak.
The best advice to give someone who wants to try Zweigelt is to give it about an hour to decant. A Zweigelt that may initially have a bitter or tart finish suddenly becomes deeper and more fruity, exhibiting notes of black cherry and raspberry.
The fruit-forward and spicy Zweigelt, with flavors of sour cherry, raspberry, cinnamon, violets and pepper, has soft tannins and is the most widely planted red grape in Austria. It can taste similar to a spicy Beaujolais, a racy Pinot Noir or an inky California Zinfandel.
In 1922, Zweigelt was created by researcher Frank Zweigelt, by crossing an Austrian grape called Blaufränkish, which gives the wine its acidity, with St. Laurent, which imparts bright cherry flavors and a smooth texture.
Zweigelt is planted throughout Austria, with the most expressive wines coming from the Neusiedlersee DAC of Burgenland, in the easternmost part of country.
While most Zweigelt styles are dry, the grape is also used to make sweeter styles such as strohwein and ice wine.