Gewurztraminer ( sometimes referred to as Gewurz) is a pale yellow to straw-colored, aromatic , medium-full bodied varietal white wine originally from Tramin, Italy, but later, largely from Alsace, France. The Gewürztraminer grapes are pink to red in color and are high in sugar content. The different fine aromas of Gewurztraminer wine make it truly distinctive. The wine is made in floral, fruity (peach, grapefruit and apricot) and spicy (clove, nutmeg, allspice) flavors. The wine is prepared in different styles which may be dry, sweet, fortified, or sparkling and is a fondly consumed dessert wine when made from grapes that have been harvested late. Because of its strongly aromatic nature, the Gewurztraminer is paired mostly with Asian foods, pork, ham and Muenster.
Origin of Gewürztraminer Wine
The origin of Gewürztraminer can be traced to the Traminer( a variety of white grapes with green skin) from Tramin, in the North Eastern German speaking region of Italy. Hence the wine is also believed to be of German origin. The Tramminer grape underwent mutations. The grape was brought to Alsace via Palatinate where it earned the name Gewurz owing to its spicy flavor. Savignin Rose, a pink skinned grape, is a mutant of Red Traminer.
Regions Cultivating Grapes for Gewürztraminer Wine
Gewürztraminer is grown in a number of European countries today and also in other parts of the world.
France – Alsace is the world’s best region when it comes to the finest quality Gewürztraminer wine. The wines range from the Tirmbach variety which is dry to the very sweet variety. The Heiligenstein grape, Klevener de Heiligenstein, usually considered a type of Red Tramminer (Savagnin Rose) is not a Gewürztraminer in the true sense of the word.
Germany- the Gewürztraminer grape of this region, probably a Red Tramminer, is different from those of France and is drier than its French counterparts.
Italy- this country is home to the Traminer from which the Gewurtztraminer wine seems to have originated. These grapes are grown in Trentino- Alto, Adige/Sudtirol areas of North East Italy. Unlike other Italian wines, the Gewürztraminer is aged in Austrian oak and not Slovenian oak.
USA – Gewurz is grown in the Californian regions of Mendocino, Sonoma and Monterey; it is also grown in the Columbia valley region of Washington and the Ontario region. Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Indiana, Virginia and Texas are the other areas of the country where Gewurz is grown.
Israel- The cultivation of Gewürztraminer was started in this country from 1990. Although the grapes are grown in different areas of the country the most noteworthy cultivations are from Golan Heights and Galilee.
Preparation of Gewürztraminer Wine
Preparation of Gewürztraminer takes some effort. The winemaker has to first decide upon the style of wine to make, which may be dry (trocken), semi-dry(halb – trocken) or sweet. The pinkish variety of the wine can be made by pressing the fruit after preserving the skin and pulp for sometime. The white variety of wine can be produced by pressing the fruit immediately after crushing. Malolactic fermentation is avoided to retain the fruitiness of the wine. RED STAR Côtes des Blancs is the yeast that is recommended for fermenting the grape. The level of acidity and sugar levels should be determined prior to making this wine. Ideally the acidity should be 0.6 to 0.9 per cent and sugar content should be 19-23 Brix.
Food Pairing for Gewürztraminer Wine
Gewürztraminer is a versatile wine and it can be paired with a number of foods. The type of food paired depends upon the style of the wine.
Dry Gewürztraminer wine is paired with pork, veal or pork chop, and some types of soft cheeses. The Gewürztraminer wine can also be paired successfully with Indian and Oriental dishes.
Semi –dry Gewürztraminer wine is paired with foods from the Tex- Mex cuisine and also sweet sour preparations from the oriental cuisine.
Sweet Gewürztraminer wine – is generally consumed as a dessert wine along with peach melba, black forest cake and apple strudel.
Aging and Serving Gewürztraminer Wine
Gewürztraminer is usually drunk young but the wine that is aged for about 2-4 years is also a popular choice. Ideally Gewürztraminer wine is served at around 50 F.