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Grape Varietals

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A real mouthful, Gewürztraminer takes part of its name from the German gewürz, meaning spice. This is a wine for people who love full-throttle fruit and are not afraid of a specter of sweetness.

Flavors and aromas: Classically, Gewürztraminers are perfumed with roses, lychee fruit, honey, and allspice. You should also expect to find a mouth-filling, almost oily texture in this rich, full-bodied white. But the most bewitching aspect of "Gewürz" is its phantom sweetness. Though technically dry, it is so rich and ripe that it gives an impression of honey amid big body and alcohol. Not a shy wine, even though it's white!

Color: Deeply colored, sometimes with gold or apricot tones.

Prominent plantings: Look to Alsace, France, for classic Gewürztraminers. California examples are much simpler and low-key, and may actually be sweet. (As with Riesling, if the alcohol is less than 12%, some of the grape sugar is still in the wine).


Pairing with food: The wine's wild character tends to mellow with food. But because it starts out with relatively high alcohol and body, it is heavier than most whites and is apt to overwhelm lighter foods. Strong cheeses (even stinky cheese, like the real Munster) work with Gewürz, as does smoked fish, onion tarts, Asian food—Chinese, Thai, even Indian—and the Alsatian classic choucroute garni (sausages in sauerkraut).

Insider tip: Try a bottle to test it out first; like strong-willed personalities, this relatively brash white wine tends to be a love-it-or-leave-it experience.

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