Finger Lakes Wine Primer: Gewürztraminer

Shorter growing seasons may not be favorable in other parts of the world, but that limitation has proved to be a blessing in disguise for the Finger Lakes. It has determined our legacy. Certain grapes prefer a cooler climate, resulting in wines of higher acidity that are now being celebrated for their prowess at the dinner table. Learn more about one such cool-climate-loving varietal in this post: Gewürztraminer.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 2.22.21 PM


Once considered a fearsome wine to pronounce, this aromatic white European Vinifera has since managed to win the heart of the Finger Lakes. Ga-VERTZ-tra-meener is the proper way to say it, and the grape has quite a lively history. Once known as the Traminer grape when it grew in the village of Tramin in northern Italy, it was renamed when it was transplanted to Germany. “Gewürz” is the German word for spice, and that description captures this wines personality to a tee.

At first sniff, Gewürztraminer can mesmerize you with exotic fruit flavors of lychee and passion fruit. Then along comes a clear bouquet of fresh flowers like roses, honeysuckle and white lilies. Finally, the real spice arrives in a zippy package of clove, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and other baking notes which give it a very distinctive character.

With 113 acres of Gewürztraminer now growing in the Finger Lakes, it is quickly becoming another suave signature of cool climate viticulture. It appears in tall bottles that are very much like Riesling, which alludes to the compatibility of the two to travel well to similar vineyard sites.

This wine has great appeal for the adventurous of palate, which also means it prefers foods with a kick. Indian, Thai and Mexican foods will sing with Gewürztraminer. And like Riesling, you will find styles that range from decadently dry to succulently sweet. –Holly Howell

The above is excerpted from a larger piece in our 2013 Wine issue.

Want more Wine Primers? Click here!

Please Support Our Sponsors!

Related Stories