I’m taking a virtual world wine and food tour. First country I’m visiting is Austria and for me that means Wiener Schnitzel. This dish holds a very special place in my heart. Many years ago when I was learning about wine my wife and I travelled to Bristol for their annual World Wine Fair. Bristol was a major port in the wine business and many wine shippers had cellars there including Harvey's whose Bristol Cream sherry is found in wine shops worldwide.
During the World Wine Fair local restaurants joined in the fun by focusing on one of the countries exhibiting at the fair by featuring recipes and wines from that country.
The hotel where we stayed had gone Austrian. We dined in their restaurant to a quartet playing Mozart and Strauss waltzes and we ate Wiener Schnitzel. The recommended wine was quite new to us and we had to be told how to pronounce Grüner Veltliner (groo-ner velt-leener, but nowadays often known as ‘groovy’). The evening was very romantic and in the evening dusk the water glittering in Bristol docks could have been the Danube.
Wiener Schnitzel (or Vienna cutlet) is a thin slice of fried breaded veal.
Take a veal escalope per person, place between two pieces of grease proof paper or cling film/saran wrap and flatten with a rolling pin or mallet. The meat will shrink back while cooking so you want it very thin.
Dredge in flour, dip in a beaten egg and coat in bread crumbs.
Shallow fry in butter or oil, turning once, so both sides are golden brown.
Top with a wedge of lemon, accompany with your choice of starch and vegetables. I like sauté potatoes and steamed green beans.
If you can’t get Grüner Veltliner try another fruity dry white wine. I remember cooking Wiener Schnitzel in a holiday apartment above Lake Maggiore in Italy and finding the local Arneis grape made a perfect match. Other unusual wines I’d choose are a dry Petite Manseng from Virginia, a Traminette from New York, Vidal Blanc from Ontario or any regional Italian variety. Or a dry Riesling from anywhere would also be great.
Why white wine? Replace the potatoes by spaghetti with a tomato sauce and the dish changes to the Italian Escalope Milanese – a dish I like with red Montepulciano or Barbera.
The reason Grüner Veltliner is inextricably linked in my psyche with Wiener Schnitzel is that after that meal in Bristol my first son was conceived.
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Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape.