Gewurztraminer is a delightfully aromatic white wine made from a light pink-skinned grape whose spiced and tropical flavours simply can’t fail to tickle your taste buds. Indeed, such is its popularity that its origins are highly contested: whilst generally thought of as a German wine, some say these grapes were first grown in the Alsace region in France, resulting from a mutation of the Savagnin – or Traminer – grape; others that it hails from the Termeno (‘Traminer’ in German) area of Alto Adige in Italy. Nowadays, in any case, Gewurztraminer is produced around the world, thriving in cooler climes such as those of Washington State in the US, where it is notably cultivated in Yakima Valley for example, and also Germany, Argentina and Chile. Nevertheless, it is not an easy grape to grow, and is susceptible to various diseases, meaning that only about 20,000 acres are cultivated worldwide.
Whatever its origin story, it is generally accepted that French winemakers in particular have developed this wine to its fullest and most elegant expression, with Alsatian Gewurztraminer wines heading the league tables. Indeed, these wines can reach extraordinary intensity for a white wine, evidencing an incredible complexity of flavour which holds its own against even the most demanding food pairings. Perhaps its heady aromas are the reason that many believe Gewurztraminer to be a sweet wine, but dry Gewurztraminer is also widely produced. The Alsace region is moreover also home to a more exclusive variety of Gewurztraminer, the ‘Sélection de Grains Nobles’ (referring to the fact that the grapes with which it is made have been rigorously selected by hand). These are ’botrytis wines’, whose grapes have been exposed to a particular type of mould which concentrates and intensifies the resulting flavours even further.
What is Gewurztraminer wine like? Before we delve into its taste profile, it is impossible not to observe the incredible colour of Gewurztraminer white wines. Indeed, ‘white’ is a misnomer here: these wines are gold, even coppery. On the nose, Gewurztraminer is unmistakeable, its bouquet rich with tropical fruit and exotic flowers. But it is on the palate that a veritable cornucopia of exquisite notes awaits: from melon, lychee and pineapple, to ginger, apricot and rose, and more besides. For a white wine, Gewurztraminer can also have a relatively high alcohol content, coming in at between 13.5-15% ABV. Precisely because of its highly concentrated flavours and high ABV, Gewurztraminer is often used in blends, with varieties such as the more acidic Riesling and Pinot Gris providing a pleasing counterbalance. Here at Tannico, you can find an extensive selection of the best single variety and blended Gewurztraminer wines from leading wineries in France, Germany and Italy, such as Tramin, Hofstätter, San Michele Appiano, Abbazia di Novacella, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht and Willm, to name but a few.
What food goes well with Gewurztraminer? Prepare to be surprised – these are not your typical white wine pairings. Indeed, Gewurztraminer’s complex structure and rich aroma make it the perfect partner for stronger flavours. Try Alsatian Gewurztraminers with aged cheeses or foie gras, and those from Alto Adige with traditional antipasti and even Thai, Moroccan or Chinese food – indeed, a mysterious alchemy seems to take place in the presence of five spice in particular, whereby food and wine exalt each other with felicitous results. Happy tasting!
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