Following last week’s post on spicy wines, I thought it appropriate to delve a little deeper into one of the world’s most identifiable, if difficult to pronounce, grape varieties.
First things first: correct pronunciation. Guh-voorts-tra-meen-er. (I suspect part of Gewürztraminer’s appeal is just conquering this!)
Around the world, like it’s Alsace soul-mate Riesling, Gewurz is not an easy grape to grow. Apart from Alsace, Germany and Austria are the only places in Europe you’ll find it grown with any real success. Elsewhere, once again for a challenging grape variety, it’s New Zealand that leads the way in the New World, although Chile, South Africa, the USA, and even Australia and Canada all produce competent examples.
Gewürztraminer produces profoundly aromatic wines, making it, along with Sauvignon Blanc, one of the first grapes budding wine experts learn to identify from scent alone. At it’s most pungent, you can expect a hedonistic bomb of nectar-laden summer flowers, luscious tropical fruit, head-lifting spice and a big waft of talcum powder.
The palate can be no less of an assault on the senses. Rose petals, lychees, passion-fruit, pot-pourri, and spices ranging from cinnamon and cloves to ginger and black pepper are but a few of the associations by writers and enthusiasts.
To the uninitiated, a wine of so much complexity and character can be overwhelming. True, it’s not for the faint-hearted, but Gewürztraminer’s eminence is revealed alongside equally rich and powerful food.
In it’s traditional home in Alsace, rich duck or chicken liver pâté, roast goose or onion tart all make wonderful accompaniments, but it’s further afield that Gewürz has found a new and loyal following. The spices in Indian, Thai and Chinese food often make spectacular catalysts for the spice in the wine to really show off, and the underlying fruit sweetness and relatively low acidity works to soften any heat.
If you haven’t tried it yet, put Gewürztraminer ahead of a beer or fire extinguisher next time you order a curry. And if you’re still stuck with the pronunciation, just point to it on the menu – I do it all the time for Kaeng Khiao Wan Kai.
Check out our range of Gewürztraminer’s here.