Warren’s Wine Notes – Gewürztraminer

Monday evenings at the 1812 Barn down the road in Bristol, King Eider’s Pub holds their weekly Trivia competition. Teams as large as 20 and as small as 2 (last weeks winners) graciously compete trying to answer 30 questions divided into 6 categories. Math not being everyone’s strong suit, that’s 5 questions per category.

On Monday March 15th one of the categories was wine… well not wine as such… it was the proper spelling of wine. There were soft ball questions like Cabernet Sauvignon, middle difficulty when you heard it pronounced, like Rioja… and yes the one I got wrong… Gewürztraminer… a shameful mistake on my part.

Not only do we sell wine here at The Walpole Barn, not only do we sell the fore mentioned Gewurztraminer… not only had I opened a bottle the night before with dinner, not only am I of Austrian descent and have visited a vineyard that produces it… I actually brought a bottle of it with me that evening to give to John Hanlon.

Tramin is a village in the (German-speaking) Northern part of Italy. For those of you have skied or trekked the Dolomites you’ve  probably enjoyed the ubiquitous house white. GEWURZ (no T) means spicy. Not in the kitchen spice rack sense, rather in the boldness of the wine…it’s strong floral aromas, gingerbread, grapefruit, and smokey minerality. The best most complex and driest Gewürztraminers come from Alsace… Germany produces fruitier but less spicy wine, Austria often bottles a sweet version so be careful, Italy where they call it Terlano (after the town) or Traminer Aromatico, is the birthplace of the grape. We rarely see any of it exported to the States. In the U.S. a small amount is planted in the cooler parts of California, ie: Monterey and the Russian River Valley. These wines are off-dry, quite floral on the nose with honeysuckle and vanilla on the palate.

Whichever way you spell it, when you drink Gewürztraminer I think you’ll enjoy this wonderfully exotic grape. It’s a deep colored full-bodied white wine, tends to be high in sugar and low in acid, that means the wine is usually high in alcohol. Because acidity is low they age quickly……and also have high extract. When you read the term extract try to think of what would be left over if you boiled off all the water and anything else that could evaporate…extract on the palate comes across as an impression of substance and character.

I can’t believe I’ve written all of this because I misspelled one word. Luckily as far as this blog is concerned I have spell check. It never fails…I always spell misspelled with one “S”.

All the Best.


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