Traminette Grape Variety & Wine Profile
Traminette is a white hybrid grape with a very famous parent. This grape is a cross between the French/American hybrid, Joannes Seyve 23.416 and the Vitis vinifera grape, Gewürztraminer. It is known as being hardier than its German/Alsatian parent while still maintaining the signature spicy/floral characteristics that make Gewürztraminer an international favorite. Created in 1965 by H.C. Barrett at the University of Illinois, Traminette was bred to be a strong variety that could withstand a colder climate but would still resemble Gewürztraminer. It was originally produced to be used as a basic table wine but was later discovered to have a quality standard that was much higher than expected. However, it was not until 1996 that the first commercially available bottle would hit the market. Since then, Traminette has become a quality hybrid that is used in wine production across the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern United States. It is now claimed by Indiana as the signature grape of the state, as it has shown to grow well in the colder climate caused by harsher winters.
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Terroir & Winemaking
In the vineyard, Traminette is a medium amber-colored grape with vines that grow best in loamy, sandy soils. It has partial resistance to several fungal diseases, as many hybrids do, and it is well known for its cold hardiness. Producers must be careful to practice proper canopy management to allow for sunlight to reach the grapes as they are known to have a large amount of the aromatic compounds, monoterpenes, that develop strongly when the fruit is exposed to sunlight. Traminette is not an overly robust vine and is considered consistent year-over-year in the vineyard.
In the winery, the grape can be used to produce a wide range of styles of wine from dry single varietal to off-dry, Ice Wine, Botrytis-affected sweet dessert wine, and sparkling wines. It is not common to use malolactic fermentation or oak aging with Traminette wines, but some producers will choose to age the wine on lees in order to increase its weight and mouthfeel. Traminette wines typically have lower acidity.
In the glass, Traminette has many of the same signature spice and floral, orange blossom aromas of Gewürztraminer due to the great number of monoterpenes present on the grape. On the palate, the wine expresses flavors of apple, apricot, lychee, citrus, and honey. These wines are typically consumed young within a couple of years from harvest.
Traminette Food Pairings
Traminette is a versatile pairing wine and depending on the level of sweetness in the wine can pair with mild to spicier dishes. A dry single varietal Traminette can accompany richer foods such as roasted meats and portobello mushrooms, but can also go with a light summer salad, dry cheeses like gruyere, or seafood such as oysters. Sweeter styles of the wine will go well with Thai green curry or dumplings with chili oil.
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Written By Jacqueline Coleman
Jacqueline Coleman is a professional wine + travel writer, wine judge, columnist, and consultant based in Miami, FL.