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Gewurztraminer Wine: Exploring the Unique Gewurztraminer Grape and Its Characteristics
McKenzie Hagan |
While it may be difficult to pronounce Gewurztraminer wine, this delicious wine goes down easy.
Those who love Moscato, dessert wines, or tropical fruits, may find a new favorite vino in Gewurztraminer wine. However, this highly alcoholic and sweet wine is not to everyone’s taste.
If you seek to stock a lesser known wine in the cabinet or seek to improve your knowledge of the Gewurztraminer grape, read on. In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about Gewurztraminer wine, including where it's from, what it tastes like, and how best to enjoy it.
What Is Gewurztraminer Wine?
Gewurztraminer wines are wines made from Gewurztraminer grapes, which are an ancient grape varietal produced in Alsace for hundreds of years.
While its name sounds German, it actually originates from Alsace, France. However, Gewurztraminer wine can come from regions across the world where the Gewurztraminer grape grows.
Gewurztraminer is known by many different names. For example, in Australia, it is known as a traminer. Additionally, you may hear it called Traminer Aromatico, Traminer Musqué, Gentil Aromatique, or Savagnin Rose Aromatique.
The wine is known for being highly aromatic, sweet, and full-bodied. It also has low acidity and high levels of alcohol. Gewurztraminer wine is enjoyed in a range of styles, including dry, off-dry, and medium dry.
Gewurztraminer wine is not very popular due to its intensely sweet smell, high levels of alcohol, and its limited food pairing options. However, for those who love a slightly different wine and tropical fruit flavors like lychee, it could be the perfect match.
How Is Gewurztraminer Wine Made?
Gewurztraminer wine comes from Gewurztraminer grapes. Like Pinot Noir, the Gewurztraminer grape is a challenging grape to grow. For a successful Gewurztraminer grape harvest, winemakers must get the soil just right, or these grapes will fall victim to disease. Gewurztraminer grapes grow best in a temperate, warm, and dry climate. The grape variety is very susceptible to frost, yet it becomes far too sweet if grown in a climate that is too hot.
Although Gewurztraminer is a white, sweet wine, Gewurztraminer grapes have dark pink skins. However, these skins are removed from the grapes during the fermentation process, and the dark skins don’t affect the taste.
Winemakers can control how sweet or dry their wines are by harvesting the grapes at different points in the season. Because grapes become sweeter the longer they have to ripen, a late harvest will result in a sweeter wine. The Gewurztraminer grape is a naturally sweet grape, but when picked early, it can produce dryer wines with higher acidity levels. However, Gewurztraminer grapes are known as sweet, late-harvest wines.
Once the grapes are harvested, they are crushed, fermented, and matured the same way all white wines are made. The grapes are crushed into a juice, which is then fermented in large stainless steel tanks. Unlike, red and rosé wines, white wines are fermented and matured without their skins, giving them a yellowish colour rather than a pink or red one.
Then, the wine is left to mature. During this time, the wine will become alcoholic and its nuanced flavors will begin to appear. Once the wine is fined (a filtering process), the wine is bottled, and voila you have yourself a lovely bottle of wine.
We describe the full winemaking process in more detail on our blog.
Where Is Gewurztraminer Wine Made?
Alsace is one of the world’s most famous wine growing regions and is located on the border between France and Germany. It is famous for highly fragrant white wines, such as Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, and Gewurztraminer.
The wine region of Alsace is considered a cool climate in the wine world, resulting in wines which taste very different from those grown in warm climates such as California or Australia.
While Alsace is the classic home of Gewurztraminer, winemakers grow this grape all over the world. A few of the most notable areas include Germany, Austria, Northern Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, and New Zealand. Gewurztraminer has even made its way to winemakers in Washington and Oregon.
What Does Gewurztraminer Wine Taste Like?
As any wine academic will tell you, a quintessential late-harvest Gewurztraminer wine smells and tastes of lychee fruit. However, other tropical fruits such as pineapple and apricot are also common notes. Dryer styles of Gewurztraminer have notes of citrus fruits such as grapefruit while others have aromatic, floral flavors like rose petals.
Gewurztraminer wine and Moscato wine have similar tastes. Both these sweet wines boast intensely fruity flavors and highly aromatic grapes. Sadly, both have fallen out of fashion in recent years. However, this makes it somewhat of a novelty.
How to Serve Gewurztraminer Wine
We typically caution against over-chilling your white wine, as this can cause wines to lose subtle notes of flavor and can taste watery. Gewurztraminer is an exception. Because it has such sweet and intense flavors, it can be served straight from the fridge.
Because Gewurztraminer is such a sweet wine, you may want to pour yourself a bit less than usual. Treat it as a dessert wine and serve it in a short glass such as a sherry or port glass. It only takes a few delicious sips to fully experience the intense fruity aroma. Plus, it might be wise to enjoy a wine with such a high alcohol content in small quantities.
Because Gewurztraminer is so sweet and full-bodied it needs to be balanced with food equally intense and sharp. This means the incredibly European wine pairs beautifully with Asian flavors. Fresh, spicy dishes like Thai green curry are a good choice. Or, you might try a steaming bowl of pho with plenty of ginger and chilli.
You can also easily pair this wine with dessert, as sweet dishes (especially ones featuring tropical fruit, such as passion fruit parfait) actually prevent the wine from tasting overly sweet.
Keep Your Wine Fruity and Sweet
While not the most typical choice, Gewurztraminer wine is still grown all over the world. It’s moved beyond its classic home of Alsace, France to wine regions like New Zealand and Ohio.
This tricky little grape still stands its ground in the aromatic wine category. And, along with Moscato wine, we think it may be ready for a comeback.
For those who love sweet, highly tropical flavors, we recommend tracking down a bottle of Gewurztraminer wine. However, this variety isn’t for everyone. The wine’s intense lychee aroma can be too intense for some, while the wine’s low acidity and high alcohol percentage turn other wine lovers off.
If you prefer your white wines dry, fresh and lower in alcohol, we recommend our Brut, which couldn’t be more different from Gewurztraminer. Our Brut is made in small batches from sustainably farmed, California grapes and has notes of citrus and elderflower — perfect for summer parties.To discover more about some of the world’s lesser known wines, check out our other articles. And to get yourself a few bottles of the world’s classics, head to our shop.