7 Of the Best Wine Bars In Vienna

With 45,000 hectares (110,000 acres) of cultivated vines, Austria is wine country. Seventy percent are white, dominated by the vegetal Grüner Veltliner. Keep an eye out for Rieslings made on the picturesque hillsides of the winding Danube in Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) – Wachau, Kremstal, and Kamptal.

The reds, mainly Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt, come from Burgenland, the region abutting Hungary. Uniquely, the city of Vienna itself also makes very good wines. Viennese wines are best-known for the Gemischter Satz, a white blend from different grape varieties that were grown, harvested, and pressed together. Below, the top wine bars in Vienna, most of them serving both conventional and natural wines.

Vienna’s Klemo delivers that combination so rare with wine bars: a top wine program and a pretense-free ambiance. Here, no one will expect you to know the difference in soil between Bordeaux and Burgundy, but you won't be alone if that sort of thing gets you going. Around seventy wines are served by the glass, mainly Austrian, French, and Italian, in addition to daily tasting lineups such as "6 Rieslings of Wachau," "6 Reds from the Northern Rhone," or "6 Austrian Sweets."

The food also merits attention: the Päpstliche Platte, a collection of cold cuts, cheeses, and pickles; homemade pappardelle with pesto or chorizo and dressed with parmesan; crème brulée – they have been mainstays on the menu since the opening in 2006. If a wine has caught your attention, you can buy it at Klemo’s spacious wine store located across the street.

Heunisch & Erben is an upscale wine bar and restaurant lining the main road of Vienna's not particularly exciting District 3, a short walk from the city center. More than a hundred wines by the glass are available, most of them local. You can explore obscure Austrian regions, for example the Traisental in Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) or Steiermark in the south, known for its sauvignon blancs.

Well-known Austrian labels from Wachau, Kremstal, and Burgenland are also stacked, as are natural wine producers. Take advantage of the "1/16" option, smaller pours that won't break the bank and allow for more wines to taste. While mainly a wine bar, the oversized space also serves notably expensive fine-dining-leaning dishes, meaning the crowd is heavy on shirts and suits.

If Vienna’s fancy wine bars, such as Heunisch & Erben and MAST, are too uppity for your taste, I recommend you try Unger & Klein right in the city center. Opened in 1992, the place on Rudolfsplatz draws a well-off but pretense-free crowd of downtown residents with a wide selection of mainly Austrian wines. Bottles by seminal producers are stacked on the shelves, including the Rieslings of Johannes Hirsch (Kamptal) and Knoll (Wachau).

For reds, there's Moric, Nittnaus, Preisinger and many others from Burgenland, the home of the Blaufränkisch. You could also opt for an easy-drinking Gemischter Satz, the Grüner-forward blend made on the Viennese slopes ringing the city. Toasted sandwiches for the side!

Run by two formerly fine-dining sommeliers, MAST is a high-end wine bar and bistro in Vienna's elegantly sleepy Porzellangasse in District 9. A polished wraparound wooden counter lit by pendant light bulbs awaits oenophiles, who can pick from a few dozen bubbles, whites, and reds by the glass on any day (half Austrian, half foreign, both conventional and natural producers).

A full-service kitchen is available for small bites and also for a six-course dinner tasting menu (€85 plus €50 for the wine pairing). Note that the crowd leans corporate and there can be a bit of old-world formalism on the side of the sommeliers.

Speaking of Porzellangasse, just steps away is the Liechtenstein family's striking Baroque palace with its peaceful public park, and this area was also home to Vienna's Jewish upper class before the Holocaust.

Rundbar is a natural wine bar and restaurant smack in the heart of Vienna's fashionable District 7. As often with such places, an inflated sense of cool afflicts the servers here – a waiter the other day made a habit of pouring the wines on the go, two at a time, with varying success – but on good days, Rundbar can be more than just a feel-good hangout for uninspired Viennese hipsters.

The place is the project of Weinskandal, a leading natural wine distributor, meaning that the wine selection is deep, especially the Austrian and French labels (pet-nat? yes! orange wines? of course!). The concept is small plates; especially good are the croquetas de jamon, the marinated catfish, and the cold cut selections. Beware, a few of those with a couple of glasses of wine will set you back by €50 or so. Advance reservation is recommended (by phone).

With several locations across Vienna, Wein & Co is the best-known wine store in the city. Their assortment runs wide and deep and I’ve found plenty of treasures here (my natural wine-purist friends turn up their noses at such a “mainstream” establishment). Each store comes with a dedicated wine bar featuring 30 or so by-the-glass options (€6-9 each), both Austrian and foreign.

My favorite location is the one at Schottentor, recently revamped and with big windows overlooking the Ringstraße and Heinrich von Ferstel’s 1883 Renaissance Revival masterpiece, the University of Vienna. It’s all about the wines here, but please don't leave without an order of toasted ham and cheese sandwich.

Fans of natural wines, staches, white socks, beanies, and wire-framed glasses will find themselves at home in Cafe Kandl, a buzzing restaurant located in a side street of Vienna's fashionable District 7. Both the food and the wine program capture our global zeitgeist: Kandl's vegetable-forward shared plates and easy-drinking reds would be familiar in places like northern Williamsburg, Brooklyn (its prices, too).

A highlight is the faux gras, a phony liver pâté made from mushrooms and wine gel and perched atop soft and crispy brioche. Updated takes of Austrian classics also appear, such as the savory Germknödel and the roasted liver with creamy potato. Kandl isn’t cheap: a few small bites and two glasses of wine quickly run up to €65 or so. Another warning: as is often the case with such unironically cool establishments, the servers can be uncomfortably "edgy."