Food & Drink

3 fresh, dry whites to put your Eurovision party in full swing

These central European wines are on song, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

Get your Eurovision party started with these wine offerings
Get your Eurovision party started with these wine offerings (Valerio Rosati / Alamy Stock Pho/Alamy Stock Photo)

When it comes to celebrations, song writing competitions and discovering new talent, Eurovision is right up there.

As Hannah Crosbie, wine expert, writes in her debut book Corker: “It’s not an exaggeration when I say Eurovision is the highlight of my year.

“With the dedication, research and pre-game that most bring to their wedding day, I bestow upon one choice night in May.”

Indeed, with Malmö [Sweden] the host city this year, home to ABBA, the most successful Eurovision song contest winner and the Grand Final kicking off on May 11, there’s plenty of excitement to whet your whistle.

As Crosbie puts it: “Eurovision is more than deserving of public holiday status. It combines the childlike joy of Christmas with the sex appeal of Halloween; the whimsy of Easter with the hangover of the August Bank Holiday.”

The world’s biggest live music event and 68th edition, some may argue one of the highlights is the increasingly glamorous outfits and spectacular stage sets.

ABBA wins The Eurovision song contest
ABBA wins The Eurovision song contest (roger tillberg / Alamy Stock Pho/Alamy Stock Photo)

“If you’re just as dedicated to the study and comprehension of Eurovision lore as I, then you’ll no doubt be throwing a party,” enthuses Crosbie.

“Among my friendship group, it’s an eclectic celebration of all the ways to get drunk around the world: German beer, Russian vodka, but the centrepiece, undoubtedly, should be the wine.”

As Crosbie writes, what other alcoholic beverage has been made so widely across the continent, and to such exciting variations?

“There is, clearly, so much more on offer than the cursory suggestion I offer below. The heritage of European winemaking is unequalled, comprising countless indigenous varieties, ancient techniques and iconic producers.”

She continues: “It’s very remiss to only suggest one European wine to try.

“It’s like only recommending one restaurant – it’s always nice to get a tip, but it would be a little odd to end your journey there.”

This is why, as well as her choice below, Crosbie suggests exploring European grapes such as “a peachy Alsatian gewürztraminer (white), Austrian zweigelt (red), spritzy Spanish txakoli (white), flavoursome Portuguese red blends or aromatic German riesling (white)… each worthy of a perfect douze points.”

Grüner veltliner

“Often shortened to grüner by annoying people such as myself, grüner veltliner is a favourite of much of central Europe – what better way to toast Eurovision?

“It’s the most widely planted grape in Austria, known for its aromatic, savoury quality, with a peppery, spicy top note.

“The finest examples are oak-aged and can be exceptionally long-lived, but the style I want to be guzzling as I look on, is a youthful, spicy style made in an inert vessel such as stainless steel,” notes Crosbie.

Three ace Austrians to get the party started…

1. Domaine Huber Grüner Veltliner 2022, Traisental, Austria, £8.99, Waitrose

Fresh, ripe and honeyed with hints of spice riding on the orchard fruits, with bright minerality and mouthwatering finish, this is your crowd pleaser to serve with a Thai takeaway.

2. Sainsbury’s Austrian Grüner Veltliner 2021, Taste the Difference, Traisental, Austria, £11, Sainsbury’s

A richer, more aromatic style, flavours of white peach, lime and apples unfold on a broader palate with hints of white pepper, spicy notes, good citrusy acidity and delightful freshness. One for a sharing platter of charcuterie, hard cheeses and asparagus in peak season.

3. Pfaffl Hund Grüner Veltliner 2022, Niederosterreich, Austria, £25 (£22 mix six), Laithwaites

And the douze points go to this gold medal-winning wine. Utterly gorgeous from word go with plenty of varietal character and good, citrusy acidity and minerality; there’s an exotic edge to the fragrant, herbaceous aromas, with flavours hinting at tangerine, lemon and lime, white pepper, spice and long, refreshing finish. One to share with a significant other as you watch this star spangled spectacle peak.

Extracted from Corker: A Deeply Unserious Wine Book by Hannah Crosbie, published by Ebury Press, priced £16.99. Available now.