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Ga-Vurtz-Tra-Meh-Ner Gewürztraminer is a white wine grape grown all across Europe. As a member of the ancient and unstable Traminer grape family, Gewürztraminer has a long and confusing past. It can be argued that all members of the Traminer grape family should be considered clones, rather than distinct varietals. All Traminers are mutations of the original Traminer or Savagnin Blanc (a different grape to Sauvignon Blanc) varietal, Gewürztraminer included. Despite its distinctly German name, the most famous region for Gewürztraminer is Alsace in France. The name supposedly originated from the Pfalz region of Germany, and means “spiced Traminer”. The Traminer family as a whole is believed to have originated from Tramin in Italy, though recently, that has also been thrown into doubt. In the vineyard, Gewürztraminer grapes are light pink and grow in a variety of sizes. It is thick-skinned, but buds early and is susceptible to rot and frost. It is known for being quite difficult to grow, and picky about its soil and climate.
Gewürztraminer Tasting NotesGewürztraminer is heavy for white wine, often medium to full-bodied. It’s relatively low in acid and has an intensely aromatic nose. Because of its pungent smell, even dry styles of Gewürztraminer can come across as slightly sweet. It’s also quite high in alcohol, usually falling between 13.5-15% ABV. Its flavour profile will typically contain stone fruits and tropical fruits, with floral and spicy notes. One of the main flavours to look out for is lychee, accompanied by fruity notes of pineapple, mango, and apricot, floral elements of rose petal, and spicy notes of ginger and cinnamon. You can expect Gewürztraminer to feel quite thick and honey-like in the mouth, and to cling slightly to the side of the glass.
Gewürztraminer StylesGewürztraminer can be found all over the spectrum of sweetness, from dry styles to extremely sweet. However, if you want to try the ultimate, textbook version of Gewürztraminer, the best style to look for is a semi-sweet wine from Alsace. Even the driest versions of Gewürztraminer will contain perceptions of sweetness. It is often harvested late to retain even more residual sugars. It is also suitable for making botrytised wines, where the grapes are allowed to develop “noble rot” essentially drying out on the vine. These styles are extremely sweet and full of ripe fruit flavours. There isn’t a huge difference between the New and Old world versions of Gewürztraminer. As it ripens quickly, the grape is limited to cool climate regions, ruling out a lot of the New World. Notable regions are high-elevation, cool-climate regions in the USA, such as Washington. Here, Gewürztraminer grapes can achieve higher levels of acidity.
When To Drink GewürztraminerDue to its inherent sweetness, Gewürztraminer is a very enjoyable wine. It’s best with lighter food, as it doesn’t typically possess the acidity to cut through heavier dishes. Like Riesling, it’s a great choice for an Asian takeaway night, as the sweetness will counteract the spices. It’s also a great choice for drinking with dessert or a soft cheese platter. There’s no need to decant Gewürztraminer. It’s strongly aromatic from the beginning and doesn’t need any breathing to open up. It’s best served after being chilled in the fridge for some time, at around 43 ºF (6 ºC).
Best Years To Drink GewürztraminerGenerally speaking, Gewürztraminer wines are not made to be aged. Bottle aging can sometimes lead to more concentrated aromatics, but more often, they will fade away. The best example of a dry Alsace Gewürztraminer can age 5-7 years. Off-dry, late harvest wine and sweet, Botrytized wines can last longer, but they won’t necessarily develop any interesting additional flavours. It’s perfectly fine and even recommended, to open a bottle of Gewürztraminer as soon as you get hold of it.
Gewürztraminer Average PricesGewürztraminer is one of the best value wines that you can buy. Usually, you won’t have to spend more than $20 to get a highly rated Gewürztraminer wine, even for a Grand Cru from Alsace. The most expensive one available right now will set you back around $200, it’s the Altenbourg Selection de Grains Nobles, from Domaine Weinbach in Alsace.
Gewürztraminer Nutrition FactsA glass of single-varietal Gewürztraminer will contain approximately:
- 121 calories
- 3.82 grams of carbohydrates
- 0.1 grams of protein