July 27, 2015
Wine of the Week: Gewürztraminer
Difficult to spell but very easily recognizable, Gewürztraminer is the wine we decided to decode today for our Wine of the Week series.
What is Gewürztraminer?
A little bit of etymology first. Gewürztraminer literally means “spicy grape” in German. And this is exactly what makes Gewürztraminer so unique. It is Alsace’s signature variety, and has been produced in the French region for hundreds of years. Although this is where you can find some of the best Gewürztraminer wines, they are also widely produced in Germany and the United States, especially in Washington State – the grape growing best in cooler climates.
So what do we mean by spicy grape? Gewürztraminer is what Wine Folly refers to as the “grown-up version of Moscato”, except with lower acidity and higher alcohol content. It is one of those very distinctive grapes, often recognized thanks to its very strong lychee aroma and its strong exotic and fruity flavors, such as peach, citrus and grapefruit. Although its heavily perfumed aromatics can leave an impression of sweetness in the taste, the wine is not always sweet. Gewürztraminer generally ranges from off-dry to semi-sweet.
How to pick your Gewürztraminer?
As explained earlier, Alsace is what you should focus on. The region is world-renowned for this grape, producing the largest quantity of Gewürztraminer. Grand Cru wines should be your priority when picking your Gewürztraminer. American Gewürztraminer wines from California and Washington State are a great value as well, along with their Australian and German counterparts.
Quick tip: the grape also produces some of the best and age-worthy dessert wines; look for the Vendanges Tardives wines – or late-harvest wines, for a powerful sweetness and spicy minerality.
How to enjoy your Gewürztraminer?
Gewürztraminer makes a dazzling partner for exotic cuisine. Think Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian, Moroccan – think spicy. The wine also marries beautifully with rich food such as pork ribs, duck or ripe cheeses.