Heuriger Wieninger

Vienna, Austria: What On Earth Is A Heuriger?

Derek Austria, Food 21 Comments

Heuriger Wieninger
One does not need to spend much time in the city of Vienna to understand the reasoning behind it’s constant ranking as one of the world’s most liveable cities. I needed only about four minutes to make this discovery myself as, from the moment I stepped off the train upon arrival, I found myself to be a much greater fan of this city than I would have ever imagined.

I will state that I had some luck on my side, as I was picked up at the Wien Westbanhof train station by none other than Fabian Kruse and his good friend Rudi. And as any traveler must admit, life on the road is always made significantly easier when you don’t have to worry about finding a place to stay upon arrival or how to find your way around a new city without speaking the language.

Thanks to Fabian and Rudi, my Viennese experience promised to be relaxed and, even better, more unique than had I spent three days on my own in this city.

AN EVENING AT A HEURIGER

It came to be that on my second evening, Fabian and Rudi asked if I wanted to join them for a visit to a Heuriger. At the time, I had never even heard of this word and I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about, but I certainly wasn’t going to say ‘no’ just because of that minor detail. I agreed to join them and just like that, out the door we went.

So, what is a Heuriger?

That’s a very reasonable question and one that went through my mind several times as we walked down the street to begin this adventure. All I could do was put my faith in my friends as we used a combination of transportation systems – subway, tram and foot – to reach Stammersdorfer Strasse, located about one hour outside of the center of Vienna. A few minutes of further searching brought us right to the entrance of Heuriger Wieninger, a Heuriger that is apparently highly regarded by both locals and visitors alike. And this was the moment when I finally learned the answer to the question above.

Heuriger Wieninger

The Heuriger Weinenger proved to be a typical Heuriger, which can best be described as a “wine-tavern where wine-growers serve the most recent year’s wine and where patrons can experience Gemultlichkeit.” Getmultlichkeit can be translated along the lines of “cheerful coziness”. Along with the wine and the coziness, a Heuriger also generally offers a selection of local foods, often served buffet style.

Our Heuriger experience took place in an open, ambient courtyard, where dozens of people sat around wooden tables, with the entire area lit by candlelight and faint, yet decorative, lanterns that hung near several small trees and vine-covered walls.

And once seated at a table, what does one do at a Heuriger? Well, before the evening was even five minutes old, we were already sipping on spritzers, a refreshing drink made simply by mixing white wine and seltzer, that seemed to be, based upon our quick glance at every other table, the proper way to start this meal.

Then, spritzer turned into wine and after a couple of rounds, the time to feast finally arrived as well. So, off we went into the quaint and cozy buffet room inside the building next to the courtyard where I quickly found myself face to face with a large selection of food, all of which I wanted to try, and none of which I had ever heard of.

Eating at Heuriger Wieninger

After filling up my tray with the three dishes that I eventually decided upon, with the help of Fabian who translated my order to the staff behind the counter, I handed over the undeniably reasonable sum of 15 Euros for the food and wandered back to my table. And then I ate. I ate some sort of pasta-like dish full of pumpkin, a slice of cumin-spiced meat and a salad soaked in delicious and aromatic pumpkin oil. We also ordered a variety of Liptauer, flavorful and sometimes spicy cheese spreads prepared with any number of soft cheeses, that we smeared onto freshly baked bread.

Dinner at Heuriger Wieninger

While the above is definitely not a normal evening meal for me, and probably not a meal that I could manage to eat more than once per month due to it’s heaviness, it was undeniably a most satisfying dinner experience. This was even more so the case as the evening pressed on and the atmosphere in the Heuriger became increasingly more festive.

And festive it remained, right up until we finally left this fine wine-tavern at around 10:00pm, something that we were only allowed to do upon finishing a requisite, and locally produced, after-dinner schnapps. Of course, this was by no means a terrible way to conclude this traditional Heuriger experience at all and it also guaranteed I would remain as jolly as could be during the entire one hour ride back into the center of Vienna.

Heuriger Wieninger Wine Tavern

My recommendation is simple….if you find yourself in Vienna, whether you’re on ski holidays to Austria or are on the way home from a European jaunt, just make sure that spending an evening at a Heuriger ends up on your itinerary. Heuriger Wieninger was fantastic and there dozens and dozens of others to choose from as well, many of which are located on Stammersdorfer Strass.

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Comments 21

  1. Pingback: Vienna's Heurigen - Travel Noire

  2. Jennifer Brown

    Earl, Thank you so much for this post. Now I know where I was hanging out every night in the small village of Petronell-Carnuntum in Austria. I was on an archaeological dig for about 8 weeks in 2004 and we went to the local village “Heuriger” almost every night because there was nothing else to do!! I did not know it had a special name.

  3. Tom

    As I live in Vienna it is nice to read that you’ve enjoyed your visit to my current hometown. Salzburg is nice too as I was Born there but now I Must admit I like Vienna more.

  4. Linda, I'd rather be traveling

    Excellent tip Earl,

    My dream is to cross the Atlantic both ways. Go Eastbound in May, then Westbound in November…….each cruise taking 7 days to cross the Atlantic and disembarking in a port. I’ve not chosen that destination yet…..well, I had, untill I started reading your posts. Years ago as a travel director, I was in Europe for a total duration of 9 months split in 2 separate years. I want to share this experience with my husband…..We will be on a budget, but trust we can do it. About how much per night for clean comfortable beds/private bathrooms…..nothing else matters, oh yes, safety of course. I think of you often as I go on about my day, praying for your safety and so excited for your experiences. Thanks for your tips, it’s so nice to read from you almost LIVE!

    1. Earl

      Hey Linda – The costs of accommodation definitely varies around Europe. In Western Europe, you can expect to spend a minimum of maybe $60 – $75 USD per night for a basic, but comfortable private room at a guesthouse or small hotel. In Eastern Europe, that number will drop to around $40 – $50 USD per night and you’ll find a few places where you’ll be able to pay even less. As for safety, there really is no difference over here than there would be at home and basic common sense is all one really needs to avoid any problems. Here in Slovenia I don’t even think I’ve seen any police officers anywhere and certainly haven’t felt unsafe anywhere, not only here, but in the other countries as well so far!

      And great choice with the transatlantic crossings….that’s quite a unique and enjoyable way to cross the Atlantic I’d say!

  5. Linda, I'd rather be traveling

    Hi Earl,
    Enjoying your posts. Well, you did it. YOU have inspired us to travel again to Europe. We will be seniors….so while you are out there, could you keep in mind what you would recommend for folks like us seniors, we can walk and walk but not with back packs….I searched Euro Rail, we may not travel 2nd class as the cut off age limit is 26…interesting and more costly…..this will not happen till Spring time of 2014, as we still are in the “responsible” stage of seeing our last child thru HS, then off to college…..you think he’ll miss us!!! 🙂
    Safe journey!

    1. Earl

      Hey Linda – Backpacks are definitely not a requirement to visit this beautiful region and Slovenia would be a wonderful destination for travelers of all ages! As would most of the place I’ll visit. As for the Eurail Pass, it may be good for you to focus on a smaller region of Europe and not trying to cover too much distances. This is helpful for anyone as sometimes we try to see too much and we end up only getting a tiny taste of every place we visit, and we then need to travel quite quickly. On the other hand, if you pick a smaller region, such as 2, 3 or even 4 countries depending on how much time you have, you’ll be able to travel more slowly and to enjoy each destination more thoroughly. It’s always better to arrive in a city, throw your suitcase down and not have to worry about packing up and heading off again right away!

  6. Sabina

    Vienna didn’t appeal to me too, too much. It seemed just too proper and glitzy. Salzburg was more real and subtantial, I felt. Plus I got to go on the Official Sound of Music tour!! 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Sabina – I’ve heard great things about Salzburg as well. I think I was lucky to experience Vienna with a local as we definitely got away from any glitziness and found such interesting, laid-back parts of the city. But no Sound of Music tour there of course 🙂

  7. Michele

    Fabian is trying to lure you back with more bread 🙂

    Thanks for such a great description of a Heuriger, Earl! Can’t wait to see your next post 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Michele – Actually, Fabian was referring to a loaf of bread I bought one morning for the three of us that, let’s just say, didn’t prove to be very good. So I think he wants be to come back and take the rest of the loaf away!

  8. Fabian | The Friendly Anarchist

    Haha, I would say it was more like half an hour until our first Spritzer arrived, but apart from that it was such a wonderful evening! Good for us the waitress changed later on! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this story – and yes, I’d also recommend a Heuriger visit to any Vienna tourist! 🙂

    For now, enjoy Slovenia, my friend! And best greetings from Rudi!

    1. Earl

      Thanks Fabian! And you’re right about waiting a while for the Spritzers…the service was not exactly the best in the end, but the experience was still well worth it of course. And about that bread…hmmm…I imagine you could use it as a brick to build something. Next time I’ll make sure I go to a proper bakery!!

  9. Michela @rockytravel

    Your post brought back my student memories, when I used to live in Vienna and go to the heuriger at weekends…they are very characteristic places absolutely worth a visit, a great way to try the typical austrian cuisine and the wines! You seem you had a great time there! 🙂 Nice photos.

    1. Earl

      Thanks Michela! If I lived in Vienna I would imagine that I would visit a heuriger most weekends as well, just for the social atmosphere and drinks.

  10. Dani | Globetrottergirls

    When I lived in Austria a few years ago, I quickly learned that it is all about Gemütlichkeit!! So I am glad to hear that your friends treated you to a ‘gemütlichen’ evening in Vienna 🙂 Do you remember the name of the pasta dish you had? I’d love to try it the next time we’re there. How do you like Austrian cuisine so far?

    1. Earl

      Hey Dani – The only part of the name I can remember is Kurbis, which I believe is the word for pumpkin. But of course, the part I can’t remember is the more important, it’s the word that actually describes the dish 🙂

      And I didn’t mind Austrian cuisine. It was a bit heavy for me but for a few days, I could handle it. Definitely enjoying the lighter fare of Slovenia right now as well!

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