Thursday, March 14, 2013

Secco for Breakfast

Think back to breakfast with your grandmother. Then kick that up a notch or ten. Sitting here at 10 am in the Hillinger lounge at the Wien Mitte (a brand new, pristine mall in the center of Vienna), there are the customary baskets of bread and pallets of butter, jams and mustards, cheeses and salamis and fruit juices. Everything here reminds me of breakfast with my grandmother as a child visiting Austria.

But on second glance, this breakfast isn't close to anything I ever had at my Oma's house. As soon as we sit down, our champagne flutes are filled with our choice of Hillinger rose Secco or a sparkling Muskat Ottonel (which Claudia loves!) The fruit juices are Hillinger's own organic ("Bio" as they call it here) blends in chicly designed bottles. The jams are made from wine--each a different flavor made from one of the Hillinger wines. There is sheep and goat milk cheese, a thinly sliced ham from what one of our companions calls "a very fierce pig," and beef from a special cow that lives in a nature preserve that only one particular butcher can touch. This breakfast screams European elegance--and Leo Hillinger, the former super model turned winemaker, I'm sure would expect nothing less. Classic juxtaposed with sleekly modern. This is Austria: its architecture, its food, its people, its wines.

Sipping sparkling wine for breakfast on a Wednesday morning is a pretty good way to kick off a week of touring Austrian wine. And I have a feeling this trip will leave us with a completely distinct European wine experience in the process.

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