Why Gewürztraminer Is a White Wine Worth Getting to Know
It might be hard to say but this aromatic wine is easy to drink!
It has one of the hardest names to pronounce in the world of wine but gewürztraminer (guh-VERTZ-tra-mee-ner) is a white wine that's easy to drink. Ready to get to know this aromatic white wine, which is produced in Alsace, Italy, and other countries? First, know that it's generally a sweeter wine with a powerful fragrance that bursts out of the glass and these elements make it an excellent pairing with spicy foods. Ahead, more about this wonderful drinking variety.
What Does Gewürztraminer Taste Like?
Gewürztraminer is a grape variety that produces a full-bodied, aromatic white wine. The German word gewürz means "spicy," but the wine actually doesn't show spicy character; rather, the term relates to its "strong aroma." The most notable thing about this wine is how powerful its fragrance is: it bursts out of the glass with lychee and rose petal aromas, followed by flavors of peach, apricot, ginger, orange peel, and tropical fruits like pineapple.
Gewürztraminer general is a sweeter wine—it will usually have a couple of grams of residual sugar, and even the bottlings that are technically "dry" (meaning all of the natural sugars have been fermented into alcohol, and there's no trace of sugar as it would be measured in a lab) are still perceived by our palates as sweet, because of all those tropical fruit notes. Gewürztraminer has relatively high alcohol content and low acidity which can also enhance our perception of sweetness. Another notable thing about gewürztraminer is its golden color—sometimes a copper tone—which is quite different to the pale color of white wines such as sauvignon blanc. The color is a result of the grape; its skins are pink instead of the pale green we see in most white grapes. If you enjoy other aromatic white wines like riesling, torrontes, or muscat/moscato, you should give gewürztraminer a try.
All About Gewürztraminer Produced in France
The French region of Alsace is generally considered the most important growing area for gewürztraminer. Along with riesling, pinot gris, and muscat, it's one of the four grapes allowed in the highest-quality Alsatian wines (called Grand Crus). For hundreds of years, Alsatian gewürztraminer has been not only as a table wine, but also in a late-harvest dessert wine style called Vendange Tardive: these are the top wines, so if you see that on a label, don't hesitate to put in in your cart! Excellent gewürztraminer wines from Alsace include Albert Boxler Gewürztraminer Reserve 2016 ($46.99, wine.com), Trimbach Gewürztraminer Tradition 2016 ($24.99, wine.com), Pierre Sparr Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Mambourg 2016 ($49.99, wine.com), and Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer 2018 ($27.99, wine.com).
All About Gewürztraminer Produced in Italy
Gewürztraminer makes up about ten percent of the total growing area of the Alto Adige region in Northern Italy. Italian gewürztraminer tends to be lighter and less intense than the version made in France, and also sometimes sweeter. It grows mostly in the most southern area, Bassa Atesina, which is temperate due to the influence of nearby Lake Garda. Try Elena Walch Kastelaz Gewürztraminer 2018 ($31.99, wine.com) or Tramin Nussbaumer Gewürztraminer 2018 ($39.99, wine.com).
All About Gewürztraminer Produced in the United States
Gewürztraminer wines were once some of the most popular in California, but as sweeter wines have become less popular, gewürztraminer vineyards were slowly replanted to Chardonnay. The gewürztraminer that is still available are delicious: try Gundlach Bundschu Estate Vineyard Gewürztraminer 2019 ($25.99, wine.com) from Sonoma.
Washington State has also been producing luscious gewürztraminer, and the cooler climate there helps keep the sugars from spiking too much. We recommend Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewürztraminer 2018 ($10.99, wine.com). And gewürztraminer from New York's Finger Lakes region is worth keeping an eye out for—Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewürztraminer 2018 ($17.99, wine.com) is a fantastic example.
The Best Foods for Pairing with Gewüztraminer
Because of its natural sweetness, gewürztraminer is an excellent pairing partner with spicy dishes: It's especially tasty when paired with Thai Green Shrimp Curry. In addition, dishes with tropical fruit have a natural harmony with the wine, try Fresh Mango-Lobster Spring Rolls. Another fun pairing is Moroccan food; the apricot, warm ginger spices, and rosewater flavors in many of the dishes are perfect with gewürztraminer. Try it with Sea Scallops with Sherry and Saffron Couscous and Moroccan-Spiced Chicken. And when in doubt, the aromatic intensity of gewürztraminer is a lovely match with semi-soft cheeses.