Today I had the pleasure of visiting the opening day of a new wine shop near where I live, occupying an old garage and named The Pip Stop.  I decided to try to go for something different to my normal ‘safe’ wine purchases and came home with two bottles, one of which was a Gewürztraminer.  Not knowing much about the wine – apart from its white and sounds German – I thought I would do some research and share it.

What is Gewurztraminer?

800px-Gewurztraminer_-_raisins_sur_pied_de_vigneGewürztraminer is a grape variety that is used in white wines but actually has a pink or even red skin.  It is high in natural sugars and shares the same aromatic compounds as lychees so is often said to have a similar aroma.  Because is grows best in cooler climates, its homeland includes the Alps areas of Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and down to Romania, Croatia and Bosnia.   It is one of the 18 Classic Noble Grapes and is actually quite a rare grape, with only around 20,000 acres of the plants around the world.

Gewürztraminer is sometimes called a grown-up version of Moscato ad certainly has a higher alcohol as well as lower acidity and stronger aromatics to it.  As well as the characteristics lychee aroma, there are also said to be flavours such as ruby red grapefruit, ginger, rose petal and a smoky aroma as well.  While it is naturally sweet, it isn’t necessarily a sweet wine.

Where does it come from?

Currently, the largest producer of Gewürztraminer wines is the Alsace region of France where there are around 7,000 acres – they come with designations such as Grand Cru and Haunt-Rhin to show which particularly areas.  There are around 3,000 acres in the US, primarily in California though both New York and Washington state have had some success with their climates.  Aside from these, the wines also come from Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Hungary.

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What does it pair with?

Generally, the best foods to work with this wine are traditional Alsace cuisines as well as Middle Eastern and Moroccan cuisines – those that use roasted meat, nuts and dried fruits work particularly well.  Pork and bacon are also good matches as are shrimp and crab.

For cheeses, go for the less strongly smelling cheese such as soft cow’s milk cheese while vegetables should offer a little natural sweetness including coconut, squash, carrot, red onion and bell peppers.  It even works with artichokes, apparently one of the most difficult foods to work wine with.

Herbs and spices including ginger, clove, cayenne pepper, madras curry and turmeric are good partners while it works well with shallots, almonds, lime and bay leaf and coriander.

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