Gewurztraminer was a favorite of mine in my 20s when I was just getting to know wine. I fell in love with Fetzer Gewurztraminer, which is quite sweet. I see that this wine sells for about $8.00. Clearly not the be all, end all wine. But it worked for me quite well back in the day. Now that I have a little bit more knowledge about wine, I’m very intrigued by this grape’s spicy characteristics, so I decided to devote this week’s article to it.
Pronunciation and Spelling
For starters, this wine is pronounced Geh vurts trah mee ner. Many people spell it the way it sounds, Gevurtstraminer. A lot of people know that the letter w in German is pronounced as a v. But not as many people know that the letter z in German is pronounced as st. Hence the complicated spelling that doesn’t have a t-s-t in the middle, even though that’s how it’s pronounced. In Germany, there is an umlaut over the u.
The Origin of Gewurztraminer
Although very little Gewurztraminer grows in Italy, the Italian wine region of Trentino-Alto Adige is the origin of this grape, and specifically the village of Tramin – the origin of the next-to-last syllable of the grape. “Gewurz” is the German word for spicy. Hence, Gewürztraminer is the name given to the spicier clones of Traminer. Trentino-Alto Adige (or Trentino-South Tyrol in German) is in the northeast of Italy, adjacent to Switzerland and Austria in the north. This explains the use of German for this grape name. This area is especially known for the beautiful peaks of the Dolomites and Alps.
According to Wine Folly, “Gewurztraminer is like the grown-up version of Moscato.” You get sweetness coupled with spice. In comparison to Moscato, Gewurztraminer is higher in alcohol and lower in acidity and has more striking aromatics. The most prominent aroma you’re likely to get is lychee, which smells a little like a sweet rose. You’re also likely to get aromas of grapefruit, rose petal, ginger and a smoky aroma similar to burnt incense.
Wine Dharma has a fabulous article on food pairings that I highly recommend reading. Here are a few interesting things they said about what they consider to be a challenging food-pairing wine:
- “In some ways, we could say that Gewurztraminer is a hybrid wine: many fatty dishes like game terrines, foie gras… and salmon mousses, seem more compatible with raisiny wines, while others like duck à l’orange are the prerogative of red wines. This is the beauty of Gewürz: you can afford to shake things up a little bit and be creative.’
- “The first step is to understand the wine… Don’t be fooled by its brisk citrus flavors, the most explosive bottles can reach 15% of alcohol. So let’s welcome all those recipes with ginger, coconut milk and meat, lemon grass, clove, nutmeg, sultanas, dried fruits and cardamom.”
Wine Folly recommends Middle Eastern and Moroccan cuisine, with a lot of nuts, dried fruits and roasted meats. They also call out dishes with ginger and rose water.
Gewürztraminer has only 20,000 acres or so growing worldwide. The breakdown is as follows: ~7,000 in Alsace, France; ~3,200 in the US; ~2,000 in Australia; ~1,500 in Italy; ~1,000 in New Zealand. So it’s not nearly as easy a white wine to find as say Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Muscat.
WineShop At Home Has a Great Gewurz
Our Gemme Gewurztraminer is quite wonderful. Please check it out.
NEW – Dec. 2016
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