Gewürztraminer Wine Profile
Gewürztraminer is a tongue-twister of a grape, both as a word and as a flavor. Pronounced “Guh-vertz-trah-mee-ner,” it produces heady, spicy wines that are unmistakably distinct. “Gewurz” means “spice” in German, and that is one of the signifying marks of the wines. In France, it’s called Gewurtztraminer (with no umlaut) and Traminer in northern Italy. And since it is such a tongue-twister, feel free to just call it “Gewürz” because you’ll be on a nickname basis with it soon enough.
With reddish-pink berries, Gewürz is often on the more golden end of the white wine spectrum and produces dry to off-dry wines. On the nose, Gewürztraminer almost invariably expresses lychee, along with ginger, white pepper, honeysuckle, rose, and cardamom. On the palate, look for tropical fruit notes like lychee, mango, and pineapple with cinnamon, cloves, and peppery ginger. Drier iterations can have notable stony-slate qualities as well. In Alsace, Gewürztraminer can be vinified as ‘Vendange Tardives’, which means ‘late harvest.’ There, expect dessert-level sweetness, richly gold color, and caramelized pear with the signature lychee notes.
Gewürztraminer pairs with very specific but oddly divergent foods. It thrives in Alsace and works beautifully with traditional dishes like tarte flambée, quiche, and choucroute garni. However, due to its spiciness, it also pairs well with similarly spicy Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. It can work very well with grilled seafood with simple garlic and pepper seasoning, as well as summer salads that feature fresh basil. Any direction you take, make sure the dish has enough flavor to stand up to the boldness of Gewurz because it is not a shy wine!
Wine Growing Regions for Gewürztraminer
Gewürztraminer is originally from the Tyrol region of northern Italy, up against the Austrian border. It makes sense, then, that it can be found in other similar regions throughout Europe. It is probably most popular in the Alsace region of France, but it is still very present in the Alto Adige and Südtirol regions of Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. Gewürz prefers cooler growing conditions and does not respond well to extreme heat.
For that reason, Gewurztraminer is not an overly common grape in California. The cooler Anderson Valley AVA of Mendocino County produces some lovely Gewürzes, as does Monterey and some pockets of Sonoma and the Central Coast. Elsewhere in the United States, it can be found in Oregon, Washington and New York, where it thrives in the Finger Lakes and along the Niagara Escarpment.
On the other side of the border, Gewürztraminer can be found in Ontario in wineries around the Niagara Peninsula and the Okanagan Valley. Finally, some wineries in Australia and Israel produce Gewürztraminers but it can be a little finicky in both countries and therefore production is limited.
Check out some of these Gewürztraminers from around the world:
- Zind-Humbrecht, Alsace, France
- Domaines Schlumberger, ‘Les Princes Abbes’, Alsace, France
- Albert Boxler, Alsace, France
- Elena Walch, ‘Kastelaz’, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy
- Handley, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
- Konstantin Frank, Finger Lakes, New York
- Peller Estate, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada
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Written By Jamie Metzgar
Jamie Elizabeth Metzgar began her career in wine by pouring in a tasting room on the East End of Long Island, NY. After moving to New York City, she landed a position at Chambers Street Wines where she was encouraged to pursue wine education at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She earned Level III certification there and has since earned California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine certifications as well. After way too many moves, she has recently landed in Northern California where she is compiling an unofficial roster of dog-friendly tasting rooms.