Most of the people who came by the cookie and wine tasting were unfamiliar with Gewürztraminer, though were willing to give it a try. Once they did, they became fans.
So, what is it?
Gewürztraminer (guh-vertz-tra-meaner) is a cool climate grape with distinctive pink skin. The wine it produces is known for its pungent aromas – lychee and roses in particular.
Indeed, Gewürztraminer is one of the most aromatic white wines out there. It also tends to be fuller-bodied and higher in alcohol than most other white wines, with a honeyed richness that can be overwhelming.
In better years, the grape has a sharp acidity that balances this round, lush character. In lesser years or in a too-hot climate, however, the wine can become flabby and oily.
The best examples of Gewurztraminer come from France’s Alsace region, where the name is written without the umlat.
In this cool-climate region, the wine can be crafted crafted bone-dry or resoundingly sweet. The latter wines are usually labeled Vengage Tardive (late harvest) or Selection de Grains Nobles (with higher sugar levels than vendage tardive, as the grapes usually have some botrytis).
Germany is the other best-known producer of Gewürztraminer, though the grape plays second fiddle to Riesling and can suffer as a result. Even more rare (in the US at least) is Gewürztraminer from Austria and European countries.
Very little Gewürztraminer grows in New World wine regions; most of the climates are simply too warm, and there is not enough interest from the American market to make the grape a worthwhile effort for growers. The best New World examples are from New Zealand and Chile.
Find a good, dry Alsace Gewürztraminer (Hugel, Zind-Humbrecht and Bott-Geyl are good producers) and pair it with spicy foods – Asian and curry come to mind – as well as smoked salmon and fatty game such as duck.