Some people remember their first real wine epiphany, and others don’t. I remember mine - it was some years ago. I really didn’t drink much wine except Asti Spumonte on New Year’s Eve. And then one day, I met a wine that would be my gateway into the world of wine, and would, in a sense, change my life.
That wine was Gewurztraminer, from Alsace.
What is it about Gewurztraminer that gave wine a permanent grip on my palate? Well, with Gewurztraminer, a light golden color looking beautiful in the glass, it might just begin with the nose. Gewurztraminer is very aromatic with notes of fruit (in particular lychee, tropical fruit, and orchard fruit, and a hint of ripe citrus), spice (as reflected in its name), and blossoms. Who can resist the beckoning call from a glass of Gewurztraminer, with such enticing aromas? Certainly not me. I was ready for a taste very quickly, and immediately I loved the wine. Even at that time, with a completely underdeveloped palate, I knew the wine had a lot going on, and I was captivated.
What I’d later realize is that Gewurztraminer seems to share some of my personality traits. I’ve written a bit on wine personalities (remember the Nebbiolo Man? How about Cabernet, Malbec, and a post from two years ago about a Pinot Noir personality?), but when I think of my own quirkiness, I can’t help but relate to Gewurztraminer. No wonder Gewurztraminer was my gateway into wine appreciation! For many people, the gateway (or as I sometimes call it, “training wheels”) is Riesling, and for others, it’s White Zinfandel.
I think when a novice wine drinker tastes Riesling or Gewurztraminer, sweetness is the first thing to come to mind. But to be more fair and respectful to a properly crafted Riesling or Gewurztraminer (two of the most important grapes in Alsace and Germany), we’re sometimes fooled by the fruitiness of those two grapes, mistaking them for sweet, and missing out on the individual characteristics, aromas, flavors, and textures each has to offer.
So while Gewurztraminer ushered me into a new world of wine appreciation, these days I spend more time examining the wines made from this fascinating grape, noting the characteristics on the nose and palate and feeling for the textures the wine has to offer.
And I’ll be forever indebted to Gewurztraminer for the introduction to wine.