Wine Lesson #12 – Gewürz-a-what?

We’re in the midst of quite a hot summer, and don’t we all occasionally feel the need to reach for a cool, refreshing glass of white wine?  My question is, though, what do you usually reach for in these most dire and critical of circumstances?  Chardonnay?  Sauvignon Blanc?  Perhaps even a Riesling?  My, how adventurous of you!

Well, after this brief lesson I hope you’ll add one more delicious, though difficult to pronounce white wine varietal to your summer list.  Behold: Gewürztraminer!  It’s a mouthful, I know, but let’s break it down: gah-vurts-trah-mee-ner.  Or, even easier, you can call it Gewürz for short (all the cool people do it).

Why is the Gewürz grape so interesting that I’m writing an entire lesson on it?  Well, for starters, variety is the spice of life and limiting your wine spectrum is truly a gastronomic crime–there’s a whole world of new experiences just waiting for you!  More to the point, though, Gewürz is an excellent summer wine because its primary aroma is lychee, that delicious Asian fruit that is becoming a de rigueur ingredient for hip New York mixologists.

Gewürz is German for “spicy”, and it truly doesn’t disappoint: be prepared for a rich, spicy white with a mouth-filling texture that is reminiscent of the buttery richness of a Chardonnay while remaining light on the tongue like a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.  It also lends itself well to thirst-quenching summer libations because of its low acidity and high alcohol.

Gewurz grapesBy now I’m sure you’re saying to yourself: well, yea Mark, that all sounds  good, but when I’m chugging 4-7 bottles of wine every couple days just to stay sane this summer, how can I afford such a wildly exotic grape?  You’re right that Gewürz is exotic (it’s native to the Alsace region of France), but you’re wrong about the price.

The best part about Gewürz is that because it’s relatively undiscovered, or at least under-hyped, the prices are quite reasonable for the amazing quality you’re getting in each bottle.  Expect to pay only between $10 and $20 for a quality bottle, but also expect to search a little longer for it than you would for your fallback butterball Chardonnay.  Trust me, though, it’ll be worth it.

Mark posted this on August 4, 2008 and is filed under Quips n' Tips.

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