On a recent Friday night, I sat in a cozy Punta Gorda cafe with about a dozen others and all of us had at least one thing in common, an interest in wine. Together, we journeyed to Austria with Bernhard Weidinger as our guide but passports were not needed. All what was required was a thirst for adventure.
The evening at Tina’s Cafe & Bakery Vienna, coordinated by Southwest Florida Food Tours, focused on what Bernhard is passionate about, Austrian wine. During the 90 minutes or so (I lost track of how long it was, after all, it was sampling five glasses of tantalizing wine), I learned more about wine than I’ve learned in my entire life.
Now, I haven’t spent much time learning about wine but I’ve participated in my share of wine dinners, food and wine festivals, and sipped wine in dozens of wineries so I thought I knew the basics. Sipping Austrian wine with Bernhard, I realized there’s a whole other world to wine that I wasn’t aware of.
Bernard and his wife Martina opened Tina’s Cafe & Bakery Vienna in Punta Gorda, Fla., last year because they could not find the authentic Austrian flavors they had at home in, well, Austria. In addition to regular wine tastings, this cafe serves breakfast and lunch with authentic Austrian cuisine along with Sunday brunch and everything is made at the cafe by Tina, including the bread and sweet goodies.
The tasting included an overview of wine-making in Austria and Bernard rattled off interesting facts such as there are 6,500 places in the country making wine, the north and east regions of Austria make wine and not the west because of the Alps, and most wine produced (two-thirds) is white.
“You need big glasses for wine,” Bernhard said when referring to the proper red wine glasses. He’s a charming and engaging gentleman and fantastic storyteller. It was easy to get lost in the Austrian wine country listening to him, even though I never left my seat in his Punta Gorda cafe that evening.
Worried about ordering red wine for your steak dinner or white for your fish? Drink what you like, life’s too short not to.
Other things I learned during the evening:
- Sixty degrees is the perfect temperature for white wine;
- On the second sip, let the wine flow to underneath the tongue to taste another dimension of the wine. This area is more sensitive than the top of the tongue because it has more taste buds.
- When tasting wine in Austria, dark bread with walnuts will typically be served because walnuts have fat and help digest alcohol faster.
Two white and three red wines were served during the tasting with an opportunity to purchase bottles afterward. During A Taste of Austria, fresh-made, bite-sized Austrian sandwiches were served and the evening ended with sweet cookies. As one of the participants said, the evening was “appropriate for novice and expert wine drinkers,” and I have to agree.
Southwest Florida Food Tours and Tina’s Cafe & Bakery Vienna will be offering another round of A Taste of Austria on June 17, 2016. Visit the Southwest Florida Food Tours website for additional information along with a calendar of their food walking tours of Punta Gorda and visit Tina’s Cafe & Bakery Vienna on Facebook.
Tina’s Cafe & Bakery Vienna
315 Taylor St
Punta Gorda, Fla. 33950
Tel: (941) 347-8937
Southwest Florida Food Tours
Tel: (941) 276-6384