Guide to Gewürztraminer
It might be difficult for some to pronounce (or spell!) but Gewurztraminer certainly isn’t difficult to drink. With spring around the corner, will you make Gewurztraminer one of your staples for warmer-weather meals?
Overview of Gewürztraminer
Gewürztraminer is a grape with a pinkish or reddish skin that is typically used to make white wine. It is a mutation of the Traminer grape found in northern Italy, but it is most well-known for its production in Germany. Its name means “spiced Traminer” or “perfumed Traminer” in German. In France, the grape goes by the same name but is spelled Gewurztraminer (without the umlaut).
Gewürztraminer thrives in cooler climate regions. In Europe, it is common throughout more northern countries, such as Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, northern France and Italy, Germany, Serbia, Slovakia, and Hungary. In the New World, it does well in the northern U.S. (most predominantly Michigan) and in Argentina’s Mendoza region.
Alongside Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Muscat, Gewürztraminer is one of the four noble grapes of Alsace, which is a region in the northeast of France that borders Germany and Switzerland. Alsace has alternated between French and Germanic control for centuries and its wines and cuisine reflect both cultures.
Despite being a relatively well-known grape (perhaps thanks to its catchy name!), not much Gewürztraminer is made each year globally: only roughly 20,000 acres of Gewürztraminer grapes are planted worldwide. The Alsace region produces approximately 7,000 of these acres.
Gewürztraminer flavor profile
The Gewürztraminer grape has naturally high levels of sugar. Its wines tend to be off-dry, which means the wine has a lingering sweetness that dry wines such as Pinot Grigio do not have. It typically exudes fragrant aromas of lychee; this tropical aromat is often accompanied by notes of roses, passion fruit, and flowers.
More dry Gewürztraminer may have aromas of grapefruit, while a riper Gewürztraminer can give off pineapple essence. Finer Gewürztraminer can have notes of ginger and even incense.
Gewürztraminer’s sweetness makes it a perfect pairing for Southeast Asian foods such as Thai curries: consider the Chiang Mai staple, Khao Soi (coconut yellow curry with noodles), a pineapple curry, or coconut shrimp alongside your next glass of Gewürztraminer. Experiment with foods that have a tropical essence or coconut, floral herbs (such as basil), and spicy foods. It also goes well with cayenne pepper, ginger, cloves, soy sauce, sesame (and sesame oil), rose water, coriander, and cumin.
Given that it goes well with the above-mentioned herbs and spices, Gewürztraminer is excellent alongside many spice-abundant dishes found in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. It brings out the sweet and savory qualities of spicy Morrocan tagines with prunes and apricots, Indian dishes spiced with garam masala (such as chana masala or chicken tikka masala), and cumin and coriander-rubbed ribs.