Gewurztraminer Wine Guide
If we had to describe Gewurztraminer with one word, it would be: sumptuous. It’s shining, rich in exotic flavors, flamboyant in the mouth, persistent, vigorous, and with a pyrotechnical bouquet ready to explode. But behind this feast, there is a problem common to all aromatic grapes. You will recognize our friend as soon as you bring the glass to the nose. And if you are one of those who like mysterious wines that slowly unveil themselves, well, you should turn to something else…
Gewurztraminer’s exuberance is easily recognizable, palpable, and alcoholic, even if its spiciness is based on pepper, gingerbread, and cloves, so unusual, intrigues, and calls for a never trivial analysis. Sure, once you will have tasted ten Gewurz, you could blindly identify it, but not for this reason it will stop amazing you with its complexity.
It is often said that Gewurztraminer is hard to pair with food because it’s not the usual flexible white wine: it should have more acidity and less intrusive aromas. It is not supple as Pinot Grigio nor gorgeous as Riesling nor trendy and oak-able as Chardonnay. That is complete nonsense! Gewurztraminer is the right wine to tame food that other white wines can only dream of. Think about truffles, foie gras, and egg dishes.
Where is Gewurztraminer born?
But let’s move on and start from Termeno, Tramin, from which comes Traminer Aromatico: the first reports date back to 1145. This sandy land, empowered by clay and silt, has found the ideal conditions to thrive. Particularly remarkable is the grand cru of Sella’s plateau, height 450 meters, specular to Mazzon, so there is no doubt about the terroir’s quality.
If we broaden our horizon a little, we will notice that the strip of land between Tramin and Appiano is all draped with Gewurztraminer’s vineyards and with outstanding results. Going further north, Isarco, Venosta, and Adige valleys produce very different wines but are not less attractive. The colder and stonier soils lighten the wine, adding sharpness and a delicious saltiness. Trentino is once again the golden area, between Lavis and Cembra are produced the best bottles, featuring a fine and dry style.
Suppose we wanted to draw a Gewurztraminer grape variety map. In that case, we could define the Termeno’s belt as the most generous, warm wines, from which thick spiced aromas emerge with a prevalence of ripe fruits. On the contrary, the wines are tempered by the rocks in both north and south valleys: consistency gets subtle, acidity starts biting. The spices fade away to make room for an avalanche of flowers.
Outside of Italy, Rhine’s wines deserve mention. The Alsatian wines are infused with intense, dry, and piercing spices, with tropical nuances and stellar acidity. Those that come from the German side, Wurze (spice), after all, comes from German, are less combative, and often you can detect a little bit of sugar, which makes the wine more fluent.
What does Gewurztraminer taste like?
It’s very consistent in the glass, flowing thick with big and slow tears. The richest, like raisin wines, are oily and run like syrup. The color is golden yellow, inviting; golden amber if it comes from a late harvest.
Sniff the glass, and you will be catapulted into a tropical plantation. Mango, pineapple, banana, passion fruit, and litchi, but always tenderized by a marinade of rose petals, broom, honey, rosemary, anise, wisteria, sage echoed by pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. All kinds of apples are a significant trademark of Gewurz.
Other possible clues are peaches, pears, tangerine, orange, and citrus, sometimes the skin, caramelized or glacé, to pop up. And the most fascinating is a triad: apricot, raisin, and date mixed in a whirlwind of pleasure. Butter and panettone in the most lustful bottles.
But let’s tackle the last and most delicate argument. It’s not easy to find balance in a powerhouse symphony like Gewurztraminer. If the wine didn’t have the right balance between sharpness and alcohol, it could be flaccid, and all the aromatic seductions would turn into a doughy jumble. And there is nothing so disappointing as a chalice of regrets. But don’t worry, you will not forget the satisfaction that this wine can give you, especially if it’s a botrytized Gewurztraminer, liquid gold able to withstand long aging.
How to serve Gewurztraminer
Ginger and wasabi are tricky, but Gewurz has enough fruitiness to stand for the pairing. The serving temperature for Gewurz is the same as the other highly fragrant white wines: 10°-12°C, but remember that this is the right wine to experiment with. Try two degrees less to help a low acidity or two more to pump up the scents of a particularly acid bottle.