Risky business: pairing Gewurztraminer and food
Be ready, these are not the usual pairings to make, because they are based on harmony: you will never use Gewurztraminer to cut the creaminess of a dish, as the wine is creamy by itself. But on the other hand, this richness will let you play with bonds that can develop between wine and aromatic food.
The secret is to adopt a guerrilla tactic, don’t just insist on a single flavor and build your pairings on subtle suggestions: the recall of a particular spice, a tropical fruit sauce, a crunchy baking for oily fish, a touch of smokiness to enhance the meat’s sweetness.
In some ways, we could say that Gewurztraminer is a hybrid wine: many fatty dishes like game terrines, foie gras, Bologna and salmon mousses, seem more compatible with raisiny wines, while others like duck à l’orange are the prerogative of red wines. This is the beauty of Gewürz: you can afford to shake things up a little bit and be creative.
The first step is to understand the wine. It’s warm like a Thai beach: hot, however sweetly refreshed by some coconut drafts. Don’t be fooled by its brisk citrus flavors, the most explosive bottles can reach 15% of alcohol. So let’s welcome all those recipes with ginger, coconut milk and meat, lemon grass, clove, nutmeg, sultanas, dried fruits and cardamom.
Pairings from the terroir
Let’s start with South Tyrol. Gewurztraminer is fond of smoked food, like Speck. Simply sliced; with stewed cabbage; wrapped around pork or chicken and then topped with melted cheese; stuffed with robiola, honey and walnuts; over a dripping cheese pizza, but don’t forget about the other great cured meat of Trentino-Alto Adige, and I’m speaking about smoked pancetta, carne salada, mortàndela from Val di Non and so on. Canederli (knödel), polenta and fondues with mushrooms and Puzzone di Moena (a great, stinky cheese) paired with a good floral bottle of Gewürztraminer, after a day of skiing, are an unforgettable experience.
Considering the wonderful bottles that come from Alsace, it’s a duty, and a pleasure, to speak about choucroute, Quiche Lorraine and Alsacienne and in general everything made with huge amounts of eggs.
Bellavista lobster and all the family of these delectable creatures go wonderfully with big, salty Gewurztraminer. Steamed, grilled, pecan crusted, dipped into a mango sauce with a sprinkle of lime, with a litchi aspic or salad, you will be never wrong. It is delicious too with richer dishes like chowder, parmesan oysters or crab soup from Patagonia. Check this great tagliolini with clams recipe.
Or, should we say, the perfect wife for the Gewurztraminer: all the ingredients seem to come from the wine. If you leave out the piquancy, every recipe is a sure winner. Here are some examples: beef satay with peanuts sauce; Laska with shrimps and egg salad with curry as a side dish; beef-chicken and coconut curry and if you can’t help eating spicy look for a off dry Gewurztraminer, a bottle of Zohlhof should work fine.
Soufflé, salty strudel and buttery pie
All that can be happily put inside a pastry casket—quail; goat cheese, bacon and potatoes; pork, apples and Roquefort 2009 Gewürztraminer Am Sand TL, from Lageder estate. Its freshness can help to trim the fat and will get along well with the earthiness of the food.
Gewurztraminer never says no to a pizza, but no tomato sauce, please! It is great covered with cheese like Taleggio and Camembert, sweet vegetables, mushrooms, fatty cured meat like bacon or salami or slices of Praga ham. However, Brie, speck and porcini, is the best combo.
Yes, truffles don’t live only by Nebbiolo! Some Gewurztraminer has earthy notes of kerosene and hydrocarbon, and if you wisely combine this with the racy flavor of truffles the result is guaranteed. Fried eggs with Alba truffles flakes and the 2009 Traminer aromatico from Casata Monfort.
Chutney and candied fruits
Sweet and tropical fruit Chutneys are prodigious when paired with Gewurztraminer. Consider for a second the ingredients of the avakkai mangai: mango, ginger, coconut, chili (just a hint!), garlic, cinnamon, currants and date, sound familiar, right? But you can go wild with pears, apples, onions, quince (for Kurt’s joy) and peaches. Pair Gewurztraminer from Termeno, loaded of ripe fruits. Caramelized peels of citrus are very inviting and often present in the wine, but pay attention to the bitter note that they give to the food.
Gewurztraminer is one of the most aromatic grape, so follow this path, especially since lavender, broom and rose are more often found in the kitchen. To bless ducks, geese and pork why not try a floral Gewurz from Cembra Valley and Val Venosta.
Carpaccio of Sea Bass and Litchi. All raw, very simple and harmonic: try St. Michael Eppan Gewurztraminer and you will never forget it! Salmon and truffles and all the oily type fish with a fruity touch or mustard or strong flavors, such as an omelette stuffed with Gloucester eels are great too. Even better if fish is smoked—tuna and herring soup—but also some simple tagliolini with bottarga may be enhanced by a sweetly spiced Gewurztraminer.
This is tricky. Skip green and acidic vegetables which are more suitable for Sauvignon Blanc, like asparagus, otherwise let’s fry them without mercy. Potato and Squash cream soups, where you can melt some Gorgonzola to add an intriguing brush, call for a ripe Gewurztraminer.
Tortelli from Mantova are delightful with Gewurztraminer. Squash, nutmeg, a sweet and sour touch of mostarda (a fruit conserve in a mustard peppery syrup), Parmesan and these sensational sweet-bitter cookies made of almonds, mixed together in a terrific crescendo. A crumble of amaretti is also a perfect coating for vegetables and shrimps. It marries with the sweet notes of the 2009 Traminer aromatico Vigna Caselle.
Forget about the terroir stuff for a while. Gewurztraminer, coming from the far northern region on Italy, matches gracefully the most famous pasta of Roman tradition. A textbook pairing for carbonara: guanciale (a kind of unsmoked bacon from pig cheeks), pepper and Pecorino cheese, flooded by the creaminess of the egg. Pasta cacio e pepe: just a few ingredients are needed for the easiest recipe in the world. The complexity of Gewurztraminer expand the simple texture of the dish: choose the vibrant piquancy of a bottle from the Taschlerhof estate.
Salami, cold cuts, charcuterie
Gewurztraminer and salt don’t get on well with each other, so it’s better to choose something with a touch of sweet spices. Ciauscolo, which has candied lemon peel in it, is ok; Cremona salami is great and greasy, but the real deal are Mortara’s kosher charcuterie made from goose flesh: small handmade treasures for the real gourmand.