Gewürztraminer: The Approachable White Wine

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Gewürztraminer’s (pronounced guh-voo rts-truh-mee-ner) pink-skinned berries produce an aromatic, slightly dry, distinctive, white wine. Often underestimated and overlooked, Gewürztraminer is surprisingly versatile with a remarkable range of pairings, still complex enough to stand alone.

Gewürztraminer History

“Gewürz” means herb or spice so Gewürztraminer literally translated is “spiced Traminer.” Gewürztraminer is also known as Roter Traminer which translates to Savagnin Rosé. Its origin is thought to be the village of Tramin in the Südtirol region of Trentino-Alto Adige in northern Italy. As the grape migrated to Austria and Germany, it mutated which affected its taste and aroma but not its color. Over the next few hundred years it evolved and expanded down the Rhine to France where it’s produced in the Alsace region and considered a Grand Cru. The foothills of the Alps provide rich, red-clay, soil and cool nights which is an ideal environment for this motley fruit. After the arrival of the great phylloxera epidemic in 1850s, Gewürztraminer and others were grafted onto resistant rootstocks when the vineyards were replanted creating another mutation.

Gewürztraminer is a “late harvest wine” which means the grapes are left on the vine to shrivel, the sugars become more concentrated and begins to alter the acidity. With lower acidity and lower alcohol content than typical wines, Gewürztraminer provides a satisfying sugar-acid balance. Respected producers of Gewürztraminer have expanded to Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Chile, New Zealand and the United States.

Gewürztraminer Characteristics

Notes of tropical fruit, Turkish delight, rose petal and lychee fruit lend to full nose and tantalizing bouquet. The sweet flavor is due to the scent that vibrates with peaches, ginger, ruby-red grapefruit, pineapple and cinnamon. As the full texture washes over your palate you may experience hints of honeysuckle, clove, apricot and other stone fruit.

Comparable varietals include Pinot Grigio, Malvasia Bianca, Moscato and Riesling wines.

Gewürztraminer Pairings

Gewürztraminer is particularly versatile in combination with highly spiced and aromatic edibles such as citrus, rose water, shallots, almond, turmeric, curry, cayenne, allspice, cumin, and coriander.

Perfect pairings:

  • Spicy Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine
  • Crawfish, Cajun dishes
  • Roasted duck, quail, BBQ, pork loin, bacon, shrimp
  • Pistachios, pecans, crystallized ginger, white chocolate, Chocolate Tortuga, Pannacotta
  • Dried fruit, Munster, brie, soft mild cheese
  • Coconut, roasted vegetables, artichokes

You don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to appreciate these mates. Wine’s old rules don’t apply, anything goes. Think of wine as an artistic expression that will expand your cheer experience. Goodies and entrees pair with flare when you open a bottle of Gewürztraminer.

Gewürztraminer is a perfect starter, dessert wine and every occasion in between. Compared to the more popular Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer is lighter, crisp, fruity with a subtle smokey flavor. Take advantage of a bottle, slightly chilled, feet up, with some dried fruit, nuts and creamy cheese. Totally approachable and absolutely sublime.

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