The Gewürztraminer is a white grape variety that is highly aromatic and usually grown in cooler areas where it grows the best.
Known as the Gewurz in English, this synonym is not spoken in German because it means an ‘herb’ in the latter language.
Possessing high sugars and a wide variety of flavors according to fermentation duration, the grape goes best with Swiss and German cuisine while may seem off the track with Asian dishes.
This white variety, however, has a strange berry colours usually pink to reddish-brown, although it still remains a white variety grape.
The compound that characterizes lychees is found in Gewürztraminer, so the aroma exhibited by it is identical to the lychee fruit. Its flavor also imitates lychee’s sugars.
Historically, the grape is confusing since there are no written records or evidences that could point out to some of its history However, a lot of genetic relationships with other major grapes exist that could tell us the story behind its origin.
Gewürztraminer in German simply means ‘the spice grape’ that exhibits an ‘array of aromas’.
Originally grown in the Alsace region, the grape is actually the mutation of Sauvignon Blanc, which is called Traminer is Switzerland.
Origins of Gewürztraminer
Several amplelographers have established this grape’s origin to its relationships with several other grapes.
As a brief account, the Gewürztraminer shares relationships with Savagnin Blanc. Savagnin Blanc in return shares similarities to several grape varieties in Hungary, Austria, Switzerland and Bohemia, making the overall story of Gewurztraminer pretty complex and elaborate.
However, what is certain is that at some point of time, the Traminer or the Savagnin Blanc underwent some mutation that produced a red Traminer or Savagnin Rose.
It was either of these two grapes that led to Gewürztraminer. Now, all these varieties are ancient grapes.
The Traminer has been observed to exist since a millennium from the 10th century AD to 16th century when it abruptly stopped producing most probably because of wars and agricultural changes during this timeline.
It was then in 1870, that the first record of Gewürztraminer written in its modern form was found in the Tramin region.
The phylloxera crisis proved deadly for the newly mutated variety and there was disturbance caused on its vineyards.
The grape only slowly recovered since then. However, the story of Gewürztraminer does not end here.
Since the area where it is grown has been a frontline of European wars for over a millennium, many ampelographers suggest a change in the names of several grapes that has led to the confusion regarding its origins.
One theory also suggests that in 1780, the Grand Duke of Baden, Karl Friedrich brought the grape from Italy from a region that is halfway from Tramin and Jura.
Gewürztraminer has an erratic ripening schedule. Being early budding, the grape ripens late, but in a very tedious manner.
In a typical Gewürztraminer vineyard, all grapes might not ripen at the same time, making it difficult for farmers to cultivate it in a single go.
Grows the best in cool climates and abhors dry soils. It is not very hazard resistant and is very vulnerable to frost and fungal infections.
When fully ripened, it exhibits flavors of pineapples with lighter notes of lychees. When unripe, the grape has that typical grapefruit flavor to it.
Its wines are not always very sweet, however, because of the similarity with Riesling and Muscat, the grape is naturally a sweet variety until blended with another variety.
Regarding its color, the wine is mostly translucent with a very light yellowish shade to it, similar to filtered pineapple juice.
Gewürztraminer has over 50 synonyms because of its wide popularity not just in Europe but elsewhere.
The list is long and corresponds to names local to nations like Slovenia and Hungary that speak non-Germanic languages.
Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂