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When the summer draws to a close for another year – and the outdoor venues pull down their shutters at the end of the season, all is not lost. The golden season comes first – the season of young wine, pumpkins, goose and early Christmas markets. We all know and love Austrian wine, cheap and cheerful, sophisticated and full-bodied. Wine lovers are spoiled for choice here but even those that do not drink wine have their special wine-season. Blackboards around town and in the outlying districts announce that it is “Sturmzeit”. 

The wine in question is actually a semi-fermented grape juice that tastes just like a very sweet juice indeed but does pack up a punch. The problem is not its high alcohol content – far from it, yes, there is some alcohol in it but the level is low. The problem is that one glass is never enough. This wine-juice is only available for a few weeks right when the summer is finishing and the rains are yet to come – it is like a consolation prize. Yes, the sunny warm days are almost over but look what you are getting instead.

Starting from the end of August be on the lookout for chalk messages on restaurants’ and taverns’ doors announcing the arrival of this tastiest of ‘juices’ and its price. Trying it and liking it is an absolute must for any visitors or new expats. There are two varieties, the red and the white. Both of them are called Sturm and the white one seems to be more readily available than the red. When it comes to taste, apart from the fact that all Sturm is good Sturm, you’ll find that no Sturm is the same. Taste varies from one street stand to the next, from one bottle to a different barrel. Just make sure you eat enough to counteract the Sturm-effect. Even when it is bottled and on supermarket shelves, even then be wary – it is never corked, there is always a hole in its cap, so handle responsibly.

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