Party like an all star when visiting Austria.

After all, Austria is the country of art and culture, Mozart and Beethoven, Vienna and Salzburg, Grüner Veltliners and Rieslings, lively coffee houses and equally lively and legendary Heurigers.

Heurigers are rustic Austrian wine taverns and the perfect place to sit back, relax, drink house-brewed wines fresh off the vine and enjoy life (and often live music) with friends and friendly locals. It’s a fun, festive night that is all about a cozy cheerfulness—or what Austrians affectionately call ‘Gemutlichkeit.’ Naturally, it’s also about the wine, and plenty of it.

In these taverns, local winemakers serve their home-brewed wines of the current season. These wines are enjoyed either by the glass or can be purchased in .75 liter bottles called ‘bouteillens.’

Some of the wines traditionally enjoyed include Schankweine (wine tapped from a barrel), Sturm (fermenting grape juice) and Staubiger (a bitter, almost fermented grape juice). A favorite custom includes drinking a glass of Fluchtachterl, which is a glass of wine ‘for the road,’ consumed just before leaving.

Another beloved custom includes musicians who often weave through tables, playing the violin or guitar or accordion or clarinet or even a zinther—after all, we are in the music capitol of the world, what would a night out in Austria be without a little music? In some Heurigers, apple and pear cider are served; these are called a ‘Mostheurige.’ Look for a proper Heuriger by the pine and fir branches that hang outside and the welcoming word ‘Ausg’steckt’ customarily written on a board.

But it is not just about the wine—since the 19th century, Heurigers have been offering food along with their wines. Technically, this should be composed of the Heuriger’s own fresh produce, which would also be specially prepared and cooked on their own grounds. Hearty choices include salads, breads, roasts, cheese and sausage. There is no more authentically Austrian way to dine!

As always, when enjoying a traditional European custom, part of the fun is enjoying its rich history. Consider that the first Heurigers landed on the scene hundreds of years ago in 1784 when Emperor Josef II (eldest son of renowned Empress Maria Theresa and therefore the brother of Marie Antoinette) allowed wine producers to sell their wines directly to the public without a special restaurant license. Austrians have been enjoying the notion ever since.

AmaWaterways is thrilled to take guests on a wine cruise to experience Heuriger life for yourself! But if venturing out for yourself in Vienna, there are numerous such taverns to visit. One hundred and eighty are officially registered as Heurigers within the city limits. For a boisterous, lively Heuriger—with live music playing and conversation flowing—check out Vienna’s 19th district, the wine hamlet of Grinzing. If looking for a more subdued, relaxing night, check out nearby Nussdorf.