Warning. This grape might not be one that everyone will love. I once heard someone say “this stuff is only good enough to dab behind the ears”; a nice way to dismiss a wine that has an exotic perfumed scent. But it is one of the most overtly characterful grapes I know, so if you are a proper grape explorer, I think you need to give it a chance. Plus it’s a great grape to try and pronounce, its gutsy sound lives up to its taste.
As an experience, I would definitely say this wine is worth a sniff. At its best, if has a beautiful rose petal scent that becomes more tangerine with age. Then the flavour profile can be luscious, like turkish delight if fully ripe, or lychee when a leaner, fresher style. It can also pick up an interesting spicy flavour that adds complexity. Some styles have a hint of residual sweetness, but even the dry styles feel sweet, just from the naturally tropical fruit flavour.
There are also many styles of “Gewürz” to discover. I find the classic traditional regions the most exciting. Alsace creates wines from this grape with intense flavours, often more mineral, savoury and complex. Whilst new world regions like Chile or New Zealand have styles that are more focused on fruit flavours.
This grape has naturally high phenolics, low acidity and a tendency to high alcohols. That means the winemaker has to be carefully not to extract the phenols that make the wine weighty, even oily. Plus if the acidity gets too low, then the wine feels even more “flabby”. “Vendage tardive” styles in Alsace are late harvest styles which are sweeter. The grapes are naturally pink skinned, so winemakers tend to avoid colour by minimal skin contact, although you can see pink hues in some wines.
Muscat, Torrontes, Viognier, Zibbibo
Italy: Sud Tyrol, Trento
Other: Germany, Chile, New Zealand, USA, Canada
Chicken Yakitori, glazed pork, Thai fish curry, stinky cheeses