Updated: Jun 4, 2021
I was introduced to Gewürztraminer at a restaurant that I worked at in the early 1990's. I had a brilliant, French-inspired menu and wine program, and plenty of enthusiastic teachers that I worked with. For this reason, I have little experience with Gewürztraminer that is sweet. Many people tell me that they have been exposed to only sweet versions of the wine, and it leads me to question whether they have really been fed sweet Gewürztraminer, or if they perceive sweetness from the body, and aroma of the wine, more than the actual flavors. Gewürztraminer is aromatic, so pretty. Aromas of lavender, lychee, apricot, white pepper, orange blossom, and cinnamon. "The spicy grape from Traminer" as it loosely translates, I always find more spice than sweet in the nose, and it makes these wines as fun to smell as they are to sip. My introduction was to Gewürztraminer from Alsace, France and they are produced very dry.
Gewürztraminer in Alsace is full bodied with plenty of fruit, sometimes oily textured, especially when aged, the style is unmistakably unique. They are beautiful wines aromatic and fun. I love them with spicy foods, when the texture helps soften the intensity of spice on the tongue, while it's own spicy aromatics play a role of integration. I also love them with stinky, soft French cheeses as a perfect dessert.
Gewürztraminer is produced in Trentino, Italy also. It is actually it's native home. I prefer the Alsatian styles personally, but I urge people to taste their way through myriad styles and production regions. Gewürztraminer in Trentino ends up slightly lighter bodied, in general, than it shows in Alsace, but the aromatics that make the grape a stunner still show through.
New world producers show the grape, too. Washington, California, New York, and many Australian producers show versions that range from light bodied, highly acidic, food friendly to full bodied, weighty, ripe fruit. Climate largely determines the weight of the wines, cooler climate probably will show lighter body, and crisp acidity. Warmer climate shows fuller body and richer fruit presence.
Oak ageing is not necessary with Gewürztraminer production. This author feels it would be a shame to hide the fragrant aromas naturally in the grape, under the oak aromas, and most winemakers select Gewürztraminer to show their expression of the pretty nose of the wine. A fun custom class, for aromatic wine lovers would be a Gewürztraminer, a Sauvignon Blanc, and a Pinot Blanc comparison, sign up for one now!