Pennsylvania Wine School: What is a Gewürztraminer?

Chambour-huh? Vidal who? Need some help comprehending the plethora of exciting Pennsylvania grape varietals? We’re at your service, offering up some information on some of the wine words you need to know.

Varietal: Gewurztraminer (pronounced guh-VERTZ-tra-mean-er)

Grown: Across Pennsylvania, but particularly in the southeast

Similar to: Moscato

This European varietal, which results in an aromatic, off-dry white wine, originated in the Alsace region, a disputed band of land that has gone back and forth between German and French control. The name Gewürztraminer literally means “Spice Traminer” or “Perfumed Traminer” in German. The grape is a mutation of Savagnin Blanc (a distinct varietal from the more famous Sauvignon Blanc), which is called Traminer in South Tyrol, a region of northern Italy.

The grape has naturally high sugar, so most winemakers choose to use it make off-dry styles. If you drink Moscato but would like to explore something with a bit more alcohol and bolder aromatics, then Gewürztraminer is for you. Sometimes these wines even retain a fizz of fine bubbles, a holdover from the fermentation process.

The varietal’s signature aroma is lychee. Though that tropical fruit’s flavor is tart and bright, the smell is a bit softer, recalling sweet rose and ripe pear. Other notes on the nose include summer melon, mango, grapefruit, ginger, honey, and spice. When it comes to the taste, fresher flavors — lime, lemongrass — come to the forefront, even as the wines showcase relatively low acidity.

When pairing Gewürztraminer, be bold. The wine’s brash aroma and subtle sweetness pair wonderfully with Middle Eastern or Moroccan food — anything with nuts, rich meats, or dried fruits is an excellent choice. Spicy dishes boasting flavors like cayenne, ginger, clove, curry, Sichuan pepper, or coriander, will also play to the wine’s strengths. Wow with a soft cow’s milk cheese — the varietal will bring out the grassy sweetness of the wheel — and a dish of piquant fruit chutney. Gewürztraminer also shines alongside artichokes, one of the tougher foods to pair.

Below is a sampling of PA Gewürztraminer wines for you to try from all across PA Wine Land. Check your local wineries for more Gewürztraminer wines.

NorthWest:
Conneaut Cellars Winery, Gewürztraminer

NorthCentral:
Shade Mountain Winery, Gewürztraminer

SouthWest:
Greendance Winery, Gewürztraminer
Narcisi Winery, 2015 Gewürztraminer

SouthCentral:
Allegro Winery, Gewürztraminer
Oak Spring Winery, Gewürztraminer

SouthEast:
Calvaresi Winery, Gewürztraminer
Galen Glen Winery, 2016 Gewürztraminer

To learn more about other varietals grown across PA Wine Land, visit our Wine School library.

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