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Heuriger

Common name in Austria for two typical institutions in connection with wine. The first is the young wine of the current (this year) vintage. On Martini, the feast and name day of St. Martin, 11 November, the wine is baptised and thus becomes a Heuriger. The Heuriger up to then becomes the "old one". Until this day, according to the old custom, one may not under any circumstances use the toast "Prost" when drinking the wine. Within the European Union, the name "Heuriger" is exclusively reserved for Austria and is regulated by wine law. Country wines and quality wines may be called Heuriger if they are made from grapes harvested exclusively in Austria. They may be sold to resellers by 31 December of the year following the harvest at the latest and to consumers by 31 March of the following year. The vintage year must be indicated on the label.

Heuriger - zwei Schilder „ausg’steckt is“

Secondly, Heuriger is also the name of a typical wine bar where home-grown wine, i.e. Heuriger wine, is served. Heurigen are not open all year round. In order to indicate the bar, a green "Busch'n" made of twigs (brushwood) is placed above the house gate. This is also called "Ausstecken" or the fact of the opening as "ausg'steckt is". The terms Buschenschank or Besenwirtschaft, which are mainly used in Germany, have the same meaning. In former times the served young wine was also called "Henglwein". This is derived from the pole (the "Hengl") attached to the wall of the house, to which the Buschen was attached (hung). Even today family names with "Hengl" or similar in Vienna and surroundings (e.g. the wine tavern "Bachhengl" in Grinzing).

The official birth of the Heurigen took place on 17 August 1784 with the following written decree of the Austrian Emperor Joseph II (1741-1790): "Notwithstanding the fact that several decrees expressly forbid the lords of the manor to force their subjects to buy and sell some natural produce, in whatever quantity, various cases have occurred which prove the disregard of this law and make its renewal necessary for the protection of the subjects. We hereby forbid all the fundamental authorities, under the most severe punishment, to force their subjects, under whatever name or pretext, to buy, sell or serve food or drink for the account of the authorities, or to force them to serve it at a higher price than that of the authorities, and on the other hand we give everyone the freedom to sell or serve the food, wine and fruit must they have produced themselves at any time of the year, as, when and at whatever price they wish.

After the defeat of Napoleon (1769-1821) at Waterloo, Europe was reorganised at the Congress of Vienna (September 1814 to June 1815). In addition to the official events, there were countless banquets, celebrations, balls and visits to Heurigen, so that for this reason, too, the negotiations continued only tenaciously and laboriously. The well-known saying "The congress dances (but it does not go on)" illustrates this. The rulers of the most important European countries were personally represented and also enjoyed themselves in private. A leaflet circulated in which the Viennese vernacular described their special preferences:

  • Tsar Alexander I of Russia: He loves for all
  • King Friedrich-Wilhelm III. of Prussia: He thinks for all
  • King Friedrich VI of Denmark: He speaks for all
  • King Josef-Maximilian I of Bavaria: He drinks for everyone
  • King Friedrich I. of Württemberg: He eats for all
  • Emperor Franz I of Austria: He pays for all

It is known that the Russian Tsar Alexander I. (1777-1825) often and with great pleasure visited Viennese wine taverns (incognito). Crown Prince Rudolf (1858-1889) paid tribute to the Heuriger. His regular horse-drawn carriage driver and confidant Josef Bratfisch, who also performed as a Heurigen singer, regularly took him to the Heurigen in Dornbach and Hernals. The two famous composers Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) and Franz Schubert (1797-1828) were also enthusiastic Heurigen visitors. Most of the Viennese songs were also composed at the Heurigen, many of which are a monument to wine, women and conviviality ("Wein, Weib und Gesang"). Often they are characterized by a certain "tristesse", which allegedly corresponds to the nature and the attitude to life of the "typical Viennese". So in the sense of the well-known song "Verkaufts mei Gwand, i fahr' in Himmel". See also under customs in viticulture.

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