Zweigelt, a tasty Austrian red

What’s not to like about Zweigelt, a red wine that’s light and fresh for summer sipping yet complex and interesting … and you can get a liter for $15?

How to support us

The 30 Second Wine Advisor is a reader-supported community. If you enjoy these free reports, please consider subscribing! You’ll get twice as many reports on a wider range of wines, and you’ll help us pay the rent!

This week’s featured wine clicks a couple more wine-nerd boxes, too:

• It comes from Austria, a step off the beaten path for many of us.

• It’s made with the relatively little-known grape Zweigelt, a modern variety with an unfamiliar name.

Austria currently ranks only 15th among the world’s wine producing countries, according to World Population Review, trailing such other minor producers as Russia, Romania, New Zealand, and Hungary, and barely edging out Brazil.

You can probably figure this out for yourself by checking the shelf space, if any, devoted to Austrian wines in your favorite wine shop. And after you do that, check out how few of those are red. Think of Austria and you’ll most likely think of white wine, starting and finishing with Grüner Veltliner.

Erich and Maria Berger's winery in the village of Gedersdorf in Lower Austria.

Erich and Maria Berger’s winery in the village of Gedersdorf in Lower Austria.
Image from the Berger website. (German only)

But Austria makes good wine, and yes, it really does make red wine too – as much as one-third of the nation’s total wine production is red. The hot summers and cold winters in the wine-growing areas that fill the country’s eastern flank are well suited to quality red wines.

As a 20th century creation, Zweigelt enjoys considerable success in a genre where many of the most sought-after grapes date back to the Roman Empire and beyond. Despite its relatively recent birth, Zweigelt has become Austria’s second most-planted vine, although it covers only 13.6% of the country’s vineyards, significantly trailing Grüner Veltliner’s 32.4%.

Where did Zweigelt come from? Its impetus was economic. Early in the 20th century Austria’s wine production used almost entirely white grapes. In the hope of developing a new red variety that would produce well in the country’s climate and expand its wine production, grape scientist Dr. Friedric Zweigelt crossed the local red grapes Saint-Laurent and Blaufrankisch.

The offspring, created just over a century ago in 1921, was successful. It inherited the best elements of each of its two parents, and – important for Austria – it enjoys an unusually quick growing season. It does not blossom until well into spring, after all threat of frost was past; and it ripens for harvest in late summer, while the weather remains warm.

Thus, Zweigelt can thrive even in marginal climates where frost comes early in autumn and stays late in the spring. This characteristic makes it popular not only in Austria but in other cool wine-growing regions like Ontario and British Columbia, Canada, and New York’s Finger Lakes region.

A grateful Austrian wine industry endowed the new grape with Dr. Zweigelt’s name, and its success was assured. Zweigelt makes a dry, acidic, appropriately tannic red wine with good red-fruit flavors. It fits well in style with traditional red table wines, and it’s easy for those accustomed to traditional European red wines to like.

That’s particularly true when it comes in a plus-size liter bottle at an affordable price, like our featured wine this week. If you’re not familiar with Zweigelt – or even if you are – I think you’ll enjoy this wine and its value.


Today’s Tasting Report

Berger 2021 Lower Austria Zweigelt ($17.99/1 liter)

Berger Zweigelt

Affordable in its one-liter bottle and approachable for mild-weather enjoyment, Berger Zweigelt hails from Northeastern Austria’s Niederosterreich (Lower Austria) region. It shows a clear, medium-dark ruby color with reddish-purple glints, and offers delicious scents of tart cherries and red berries. Aromatic cranberries join the cherry-berry character on the palate, nicely structured with acidity and soft tannins. Stony minerality joins the choir in a long finish. 12.5% alcohol. U.S. importer: Skurnik Wines, NYC. (May 15, 2024)

FOOD MATCH: This wine’s fresh, tart, and fruity flavors are made to go with pork or roast poultry, and it’s approachable enough to make a match with pizza and tomato-sauced pasta dishes.

WHEN TO DRINK: Good Zweigelt can respond well to cellaring, but this wine is really meand for enjoyment, not investment. Buy it, drink it, get some more.

This tasty red is well worth my local $18 price for a full liter bottle, which works out to less than $14 for a standard 750 ml bottle. Additionally, show a $13 average U.S. retail with some vendors offering it under $10, so comparison shopping is warranted.

Here’s an importer’s fact sheet on the similar 2022 vintage of this wine. This Skurnik link will take you to an article and photos about Weingut Berger, the family-run winery in Austria’s Kremstal region.

Check prices and find vendors for Berger Zweigelt on

Read Wine-Searcher’s information page on the Niederosterreich (Lower Austria) and browse wines and vendors from the region.

Discover Zweigelt, an early 20th century cross between Saint-Laurent and Blaufranchish at this Wine-Searcher link.


Find the wines you want

Explore Wine-Searcher is the place to go online if you want to find where to buy a particular wine that interests you. What’s more, offers so much more. It’s well worth a visit just to discover its many features, including its popular list of the world’s Top 10 Best Value Wines.


Good wines we’ve tried under $10.99!

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10.99 or less that I’ve told you about in recent years. In some cases the prices may have risen over the $10.99 mark since I reviewed them, but they should still be excellent bargains. Please tell us about your favorites!


Sponsor the Wine Advisor.

Thirty Second Wine Advisor
Support The 30 Second Wine Advisor and help us pay the rent while reaching 25,000 dedicated readers with your sponsorship message in this space, at the top of this E-letter, and on our social media. If you’re an established business in wine, food, and similar ventures, there’s no better way to focus your message toward an audience that comes here for just those topics. See our Sponsorship Page, or email Robin Garr for more information.


Wine Forum and Social Media

You’re always welcome to drop by our WineLovers Discussion Group, the Internet’s first and most civil online community. Discussions are open for public viewing, but you must register to post. To request registration, please contact me at, tell me your name, mention the Wine Advisor, and briefly say why you’d like to participate in the forum. Sorry about the minor red tape, but this is our simple, low-tech way to deter spammers and bots.

I’d also be delighted to have you visit and “like” our WineLovers Facebook Page.

Bookmark the permalink.

Read more articles from The 30 Second Wine Advisor

Comments are closed