Gewurztraminer, or Gewurz for short
I’m often asked ‘what is your favorite wine in the store?’ The truth is I never have a favorite, maybe a favorite at the time but not one overwhelming wine I’m in love with. Now, it may be different for some but I am not a creature of habit. I like to travel, to explore and that spills over to my wine selections. Sure I love a good Napa Cab and even more a Oregon Pinot Noir, but once in a while I crave a Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Teroldego, or some other unique varietal. In preparation for our Century Club Tasting (coming up on the 21st) I’m going to explore some of my favorite unique grapes….today’s topic Gewürztraminer.
Grape Name: Gewürztraminer
Pronunciation: guh-VOORTS-truh-MEE-nur, audio link here . Also can be called “Gewurz” for short
Color: Pinkish skin graped, produces white wine
From: Probably most famous is the Gewurz grown in Germany & Austria, but it is also produced in Australia, Canada, France, Italy and the USA as well as some lesser known wine growing regions (Bulgaria, Hungary, Luxembourg, Czech Republic).
History: The grape was originally found in the Alsace region of France (which is known for more German style varietals and wines than French) along the Rhine River. The name translates to “Spice Traminer” for its spicy character and family history in the Traminer variety, an ancient green grape. Through a number of different (and confusing) mutations, the grape variety came to be what it is today just after the phylloxera epidemic in Europe when a single variety/mutation was selected and then grafted on phylloxera immune vines.
Climate: Gewurz is rather a moody vine. It hates chalky soil and is very prone to disease. It also buds early increasing the chance of frost affecting its growth and in a warm and dry summer climate ripens late. If over ripened (in a warm climate) the sweetness of the grape gets out of control, whereas under ripening inhibits aromas and sugar.
Characteristics: Gewurz is a highly aromatic varietal often with strong floral notes (roses) and sweet fruits (lychee, passion fruit). It can be made either in an off-dry (slightly sweet) or dry style.
Pairing: One of the few perfect wines to pair with Asian cuisine, it balances anything spicy as well and does well with smoked salmon.
Recommendation: (my favorite Gewurz) Villa Wolf Gewürztraminer, Germany, $15