There are no neutral feelings about Gewurztraminer
Nov. 7, 2001
Gewurztraminer is considered to be one of the world's great wines but it is likely you've never heard of it.
Though many countries grow the grape and produce the wine, it is one of the most controversial on today's market. Gewurztraminer is a wine you will either love or dislike intensely and the majority of you will probably fall in the latter group.
The best Gewurztraminer is produced in Alsace, a part of France. The grape produces very aromatic and very spicy wines with a taste that ranges from a grapey muskiness to a pungent peppery flavor although the accent should be on pungent.
The grape originally came from Germany but transplants easily. It is now grown in California and many other countries in the world.
I often argue that you owe it to yourself to try different wines, not just the product of different wineries but of different blends or grapes with different flavors.
I've also maintained you need to broaden your wine scope to different countries. California is not the only place where good-to-great wine is being produced. In our tastings, the attendees have learned the joys of different varieties produced in Australia, Spain, Chile and Italy.
The gewurztraminers fall into the category of adventures in wine that it is likely you've never bought or tasted it.
Robert Parker, America's most respected wine critic, puts it this way in one of his books.
The subject came up recently when I was asked to taste and review one of these wines. I promised to do so but the bottle still sits in my cellar. I have not yet found the courage to taste a bottle of wine with more overpowering flavor than any of its sister wines in the same location.
You have the right to ask if it is so extreme in its spiciness, why do some people love it so?
Fair enough. First of all, it is the only wine I know that truly matches its flavors to Chinese or Indian food. In the past, when asked what wine goes with Chinese, my standard answer has been "None. Cold beer goes with Chinese food."
But that isn't totally accurate. A gewurztraminer does marry the flavors of the orient, Chinese, Thai, Japanese and particularly Indian food which is unlike virtually any other being enjoyed today.
It would go with pungent fish such as blackened redfish or blackened pork. I've never tried it with with blackened steak but I assume it would probably compliment that New Orleans type meal. In France, the best restaurants recommend it with foie gras or a rich cheese such as munster. I don't agree with these latter two choices but remember I said French restaurants make that recommendation, not any Mississippi wine critic I know.
In fact, one of my fellow wine lovers for whom I have the utmost respect and who owns a vast cellar of outstanding bottles, confessed to me the other day he had never tasted a gewurztraminer. He will sometime this week, like it or not, when I open the bottle for review.
The wine is somewhat on the alcoholic side with 14 percent alcohol not uncommon. Its aging potential ranks with many of the world's best. It is not uncommon for a 25-year-old bottle to still be very drinkable.
California gewurztraminers are not as intense as the Alsace version and a bit softer. If you want to taste the real thing, your favorite package store can order it from the state warehouse because they do have it in their catalog.
As I said you will either love it or hate it. That makes it tough on the wine merchant. He, or she, will either sell the other 11 bottles in that case quickly, or he will have them on his shelf, selling one bottle a year for the next 11 years.
From here on, it's up to your sense of adventure.
Enough about that. I have been asked about the next wine tasting. It will be Nov. 29, one week after Thanksgiving.
This will be our second annual Christmas champagne tasting and wines will range from world-wide sparkling wines offering great value for the money, to some rather expensive French champagnes, priced for special events or special holidays.
Reservations will be strictly required. You can't carry over the contents of a bottle of champagne. When it's open, it doesn't take that long to go flat and the remainder can only be poured down the drain. Call 482-0930 and reserve your space at the table.
Stan Torgerson, a longtime resident of Meridian, is writes a weekly wine column for The Meridian Star.