Gewurztraminer: Not Only for Wine Geeks

At a recent class on Thanksgiving wines, I introduced the group to Gewurztraminer. I was nervous about it. I told the host to buy just two bottles of this wine, and three each of the other whites.

I often think of Gewurztraminer as a wine geek’s indulgence, a wine we can get friends and family to drink only at Thanksgiving. This prettily perfumed, full-bodied white is a popular one for turkey day. It provides a luscious contrast to the dry white meat.

Gewurztraminer has very pretty, very floral aromatics that I absolutely adore. Think roses and honeysuckle. Some people tell me it reminds them of perfume. In addition to the strong floral character, Gewurztraminer may exhibit tropical or citrus notes, ranging from guava to lychee to grapefruit. These full-bodied white wines easily reach high alcohol levels. As a grape, Gewurztraminer ripens easily, accumulating sugar and losing acidity.

For the Thanksgiving class, I chose a restrained French Gewurztraminer, an earlier-harvested wine with low alcohol and a touch of sweetness. It was from the wine region Alsace, found along France’s border with Germany and home to much of the world’s Gewurztraminer.

To my pleasant surprise, the group liked it. What a great response for this geeky grape!

To continue my Gewurztraminer celebration, I brought a bottle from the Finger Lakes, New York, to one of my go-to Thai restaurants. The exotic notes, intense flavors, and luscious sweetness of the Gewurztraminer complemented sweet sauces, spicy curries, and peanut dressings.

I eagerly await another opportunity to enjoy some good Gewurztraminer. I’m looking forward to pairing an Alsatian selection with sauerkraut (mine is still fermenting). Traditional Alsatian cuisine revolves around hearty vegetables, pork, game, and sausage, with a strong German influence. Being boldly flavored, Gewurztraminer matches such substantial fare, perfect for the cold, dark nights of winter. Where else do you find the fresh, pretty aroma of honeysuckle in late November?

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