Don’t be intimidated by its name. Gewurztraminer (pronounced guh-verts-trah-mee-ner) is one of the most unique grapes and produces some of the most unique wines on earth. This pink-skinned grape variety’s wines are known for their prominent aromatics, complexity, and one-of-a-kind flavor profiles.
What Is Gewurztraminer?
Gewürztraminer is an aromatic pink-skinned grape variety that is used to produce medium-to-full-bodied wines that fall at all points on the sweetness spectrum. In German, the word “gewürz” means sweet, while “traminer” refers to the family of grapes from which this variety comes. Note that in German, gewürztraminer is spelled with an umlaut over the u, whereas the umlaut is typically not used in English and French.
Where Does Gewurztraminer Come From?
Gewurztraminer comes from the Tramin area of Italy. Although the grape’s history is a bit complicated, the short story is that the traminer grape, a green-skinned variety from South Tyrol in Italy, eventually moved through various regions in Europe and mutated to red traminer/savangin rose, a pink-hued version of the grape, which eventually became the gewurztraminer that we know today.
Today, the most popular expressions of gewurztraminer hail from Alsace, Germany, and the United States (Washington State, Oregon, and New York), although the grape is also popular in northern Italy, Canada, and Australia.
How Is Gewurztraminer Made?
Gewurztraminer is vinified in a variety of styles, and like every grape variety, the flavors in the final wines it produces depend on where the grapes were grown as well as how they were vinified. Dry, off-dry, and sweet expressions are all commonly present on the market.
In the vineyard, gewurztraminer is relatively high-maintenance and needs a lot of TLC. The grape does best in areas with dry, warm summers, since it is susceptible to frost and disease. Because the grape is high in natural sweetness, harvesting the fruit at the precise moment at which ripeness and acidity are in check is crucial.
What Does Gewurztraminer Taste Like?
Gewurztraminer-based wines tend to show flavors of tropical fruits, lychee, guava, honey, rose water, rose petals, white flowers, citrus, mandarin, and/or passion fruit. Due to the grape’s natural sweetness and tropical-fruit-driven notes, dry expressions of gewurztraminer are often perceived as sweet.
What Are Good Food Pairings with Gewurztraminer?
Because of gewurztraminer’s sweet, fruit-driven flavors, these wines pair best with dishes that pack some heat. You might try them with a variety of Asian dishes such as Szechuan cuisine or pad Thai as well as smoked salmon, pungent cheeses, Alsatian-inspired tartes flambée, curry-based dishes, and much more.
These are five bottles to try.
Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Alsace Turckheim
Regarded as one of the greatest wine producers in all of eastern France, Domaine Zind Humbrecht produces a gewurztraminer that doesn’t disappoint. Full-bodied notes of green apple, white flowers, pineapple, ginger, and sweet spice lead to a lasting, flavor-packed finish. For one of the best expressions of gewurztraminer on the market, this is your bottle—and considering the quality of the wine, the price tag isn’t so bad, either.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewurztraminer
Credited with spearheading the Finger Lakes AVA of New York State, Dr. Konstantin Frank remains at the top of the area’s winemaking game. The estate’s bright, acid-driven gewurztraminer oozes with flavors of guava, lychee, and peach skin. Sip it with takeout favorites on a warm evening.
Elena Walch Gewurztraminer
Elena Walch has been a pioneering force in Alto Adige’s viticultural scene since the 1980s. Today, her daughters now mostly hold the winemaking reins, though Elena’s influence is still found in every bottle. This cool-climate bottling is loaded with flavors of peach skin, rose water, and strawberry sorbet. Pop it open on a hot day and enjoy it beneath the sun.
Trimbach Gewurztraminer Alsace
Trimbach’s impressive winegrowing history in Alsace dates to 1626. Now on its 12th generation of winemakers, this classic domaine continues to uphold its reputation for delicious, high-quality bottles crafted from traditional varieties. Its gewurztraminer jumps with flavors of fresh melon, pear skin, tropical fruit, and honey.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
Villa Wolf Gewürztraminer
This affordable and easy-to-find gewurztraminer hails from Germany’s Pfalz region and is produced from organically farmed fruit. Expect off-dry flavors of apricot, canned peaches, citrus, and lychee. The wine’s relatively low ABV, at 11.5%, makes it ideal for brunch or lunchtime sipping.