Photo by oksidor courtesy of Creative Commons
Fall in Austria brings Sturm, a slightly fermented grape juice. Also known as Jungwein or ‘young wine’, it’s sold unfiltered, in both white and red. Light and somewhat sparkling, it’s very refreshing.
Available for only a very short time, from September to the middle or end of October, Sturm is particularly popular at the festivals in towns and city throughout the fall. For many, having the first glass of Sturm marks the beginning of the harvest season, that time when there’s still enough warmth to enjoy a cool refreshing glass but after the intensity of summer’s heat – and the bustle of tourist season – has passed.
Sturm is sold in bottles or from large vats in beer halls at the festivals. In Salzburg, it’s very common at Rupertikirtag, the city’s big fall celebration, ladled out into glass mugs. You pay a euro or two as a deposit for the mug and take your Strum to a table to enjoy. Then return the mug to reclaim your deposit. Or, as is tempting, for a refill.
It is tempting, but beware. Sturm is about 4% alcohol, and it’s served in generous measures. It tastes like grape juice and is very sweet, so it goes down easily. Many have enjoyed it too thoroughly in the heat of the day, to their chagrin, when, trying to stand or suddenly feeling giddy, they discover that it has gone to their heads faster than they realised.
So beware but enjoy. Here’s to Fall: Prost!