Heuriger (pronunciation: IPA|'hɔy rɪ ɡɐIPA|) is the name given to many Austrian wine-drinking locales where patrons can experience "Gemütlichkeit". Originally only the most recent year's wine was served at such an establishment. "Heurig" means "this year's" (as an adjective) in Austrian German; thus, a "Heuriger".


A "Heuriger" has legal limitations different from those of a tavern or restaurant. Only its own wine can be served, and it is limited to serving a limited selection of food from a buffet. Many places still provide a very nice selection of small cold dishes, for example Liptauer spread and even several different hot plates, for example Wiener Schnitzel. Additionally, a Heuriger can only be open a certain amount of time per year. In areas with many Heurigen, people generally know about the scheduled openings of other establishments, and it is usually guaranteed that there will be at least one or more Heurigen open. Open "Heurigen" indicate that guests are welcome with a couple of conifer or fir twigs, or "Buschen", hung above the entrance door.

For financial reasons, many Heurigen are opening attached restaurants that sell other foods and also beer, for example. Purists would consider these "Pseudo-Heurigen".

At the beginning of the 20th century, it was customary to bring one's own food, or other drinks, to a "Heuriger". To make an establishment more profitable, in many places, the place would be leased to different winemakers or "winzers". These establishments therefore have the name "Winzerstube".

The musical element

Muzak or any other form of pre-recorded background music is strictly taboo at Heurigen. Rather, if at all, music is provided live by normally two "Heurigensänger" accompanying themselves on (often double-necked) guitar and accordion respectively. Walking from table to table and expecting tips, they will perform on request any songs from their limited of "Wienerlieder" and inauthentic renderings of Schrammelmusik, for the benefit of all guests present.

The themes of these songs invariably revolve around the quality of the wine, the act of wine-drinking and its consequences, Vienna's beauty, a nostalgic longing for the past, the transitoriness of life, the inevitability of suffering and death at God's will, and, to a somewhat lesser degree, romantic love.

Mass tourism has taken its toll on the music performed at a Heuriger. Visitors from Germany—"Piefkes"—will expect, or at least be happy to hear, one or two songs from, say, the Rhineland, but the "Heurigensänger" will also try to cater for the tastes of all kinds of nationalities whenever a busload of tourists arrives. Thus, music at a Heuriger has gone a long way since people such as Anton Karas earned a living by playing his zither or Hans Moser interpreted a "Wienerlied" in his movies.


On August 17, 1784, Austrian Emperor Joseph II issued the decree that permitted all residents to open establishments to sell and serve self-produced "wine, juices and other food". Today, of course, "Heurige" are regulated by Austrian Federal Countries' Laws, like published by Vienna's, Lower Austria's, Burgenland's and Steiermark's legislation.

Well-known areas for Heurigen are Grinzing, Sievering, Neustift am Walde, Perchtoldsdorf, Mauer, Stammersdorf, Guntramsdorf, Gumpoldskirchen, Gainfarn, Dürnstein,Langenlois, Rust, Königstetten, Gamlitz, and Kitzeck.

Another variation of Heuriger is called "Mostheuriger", where apple or pear cider is served.

Similar establishments also exist in other German-speaking areas of wine production, sometimes called "Buschenschank", "Straußen-" or "Besenwirtschaft" or also "Heckenwirtschaft".

External links

* [http://www.werbeka.com/wien/heurigee.htm Wine-Culture in Vienna]

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