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Home | White Varieties | Gewürztraminer - Tongue Twisting Goo . . .

Gewürztraminer - Tongue Twisting Good

While it does not enjoy the international acclaim as other popular white varietals (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling), this tongue-twisting grape (guh-VOORTS-truh-MEE-nur) makes some of the finest wine in the world.  Its origins can be traced to the northern Italian town of Traminer, which without political demarcation would be mistaken for a German town.  Like much of the region, the cultures spawned in particular areas remain loyal unto themselves, without regard for arbitrary lines drawn by authority figures.  The preceding centuries in the Middle Ages witnessed Traminer evolve and produce offspring with numerous characteristics.  Gewürztraminer was one of those evolutions, and its highly perfumed and powerful aroma made it quite popular as it spread throughout the area.  Now Gewurtz, as it is referred to colloquially, has traipsed the globe and found a few key spots to call home.

Where is Gewurztraminer grown?

Gewürztraminer is particularly suited for cool climates but poses a predicament because it also enjoys a bit of heat and sunshine. The difficulty in finding suitable vineyard sites with a combination of those two factors, plus just the right soil type, aspect, and rainfall, is one reason why Gewürztraminer is not better known.  Luckily, the grape has found some spots on the globe to thrive.

France -

On the east side of the Vosges Mountains, protected by Atlantic storms that sweep across the country, the region of Alsace is the world leader in producing quality Gewürztraminer.  In fact, nearly half of the entire world's supply comes from this region.  Another transitional culture, with characteristics of each country on either side of the Rhein River, the region runs north to south along the border with Germany.  Its location between the often agitated foes has meant disaster in many vintages as grapes have sometimes been used in building mortar, repairing the damage from violent border disputes.  Yet when the region has enjoyed peace, Alsatian vintners have created some of the most concentrated, powerful white wines in the world.  The natural acidity the grapes develop in Alsace balances perfectly with its floral and fruit components, making it perfect for the dinner table or the picnic blanket.  Also unique to Alsace is the mandate that wine makers use the distinctive slender bottle (flute) widely used in Germany as well.

French Producers to look for: Domaines Schlumberger, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Hugel & Filz, Leon Beyer, Maison Trimbach, Cave de Turckheim, and Domaine Mure.

The Rest of the World - Gewürztraminer can also be found within close proximity to Alsace including Germany, Austria, and Italy, but few regions in those countries produce significant quantities or achieve the heights it reaches in Alsace.  In the United States, Oregon and Washington in the Pacific Northwest have suitable climates but wine makers battle with economic realities and name recognition.  If the choice is between Riesling and Gewurz, vintners will most likely choose the former.  In New Zealand the east coast presents an environment for slow ripening while the same is true in South Australia's Clare Valley.

World Producers to Look for - Rebholz (Pfalz, Germany), Hofstatter (Alto Adige, Italy), Vinoptima (Gisborne, New Zealand), Stonecroft (Hawke's Bay, New Zealand), Knappstein (Clare Valley), Ash Hollow (Walla Walla, WA), Hogue (Columbia Valley, WA), and Lumis Wine Company (Willamette Valley, OR).

Gewürztraminer Styles

Gewürztraminer can be a divisive varietal because of the strength of its aroma. Some fall heads over heels with the unique fruity/floral smell while others coil in disgust. No matter the reaction, most wine drinkers will agreed that the smell is the most prominent and enduring aspect of Gewürztraminer. It combines the aromas of lychees (the tropical fruit of Southeast Asia origin) with rose petals and sometimes even bacon to offer a memorable waft for any nose. Fortunately, those powerful aromas are met with adequate acidity and richness to balance the best table wines. Vintners also craft dessert wines with Gewürztraminer when the conditions present themselves for well ripened grapes. Many will suggest spicy Asian cuisine with the wine but it can also be paired with oily or gamey meat such as duck or goose.

Gewürztraminer Profile














Rose petals









Off Dry


Gewurztraminer is produced with high acidity levels


Because Gewürztraminer is a thick skinned sugar laden grape, alcohol levels are generally in the medium to high range (12-14%)



Top rated older Gewürztraminers can fetch as much as $100 per bottle but recent releases from Alsace are readily available for under $25


To help understand your wine profile read Your Wine Profile.

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·  Viura - A Grape of Many Names
·  Riesling- The Misunderstood Noble
·  Alsace - Planet of the Apes?


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