Cheers To You

An exploration of all things wine with local wine expert Mary Earl.
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Posts Tagged ‘Gewurztraminer’

Washington wine for Ceviche and Key lime pie

Friday, January 4th, 2013

It seems like we’ve been recommending this wine a lot lately. That’s because it’s versatile — it goes with everything from a Thanksgiving turkey to citrus fruits like lime, a primary component in both of Ann Vogel’s recipes.

The grape Gewürztraminer shares similar qualities as limes, including acidity and floral aromas. In fact, Gewürztraminer is a very aromatic wine, and the name literally translates to “Spice Traminer”.

It’s similarity to limes, as well as its aromatics and ability to stand up to spicy food are why we think this wine is a perfect pairing for the Ceviche and the Key lime pie.

It might be hard to pronounce, but it’s easy to drink. Referred to it as “Gewürz” by those in the know, the grape’s skin color can vary from pink to red but its finished wine is definitely white.

Naturally high in sugars and, here in Washington acidity, Gewürz is white and ranges from dry, off-dry, sweet, and our favorite, ice wine. All Gewürz have a heady bouquet that may remind you of lychee nuts. And interestingly enough, Gewürztraminer and lychee share the same aroma compounds in addition to aromas of passion fruit and sweet rose.

Gewürztraminer’s sweetness is highly recommended for spicy Mexican, Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese cuisine.

Mary remembers one of the most memorable matches she’s had in Kitsap County: A Ceviche with a Washington Gewürztraminer. The juicy sweetness and high acidity were perfect with the seafood, green peppers, onions and jalapeños. Give it a shot and let us know what you think.

Even though the following companies are big, make no mistake, Gewürztraminer is not widely grown and is tough to find. But once found, it’s worth the search.

We recommend Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Gewürztraminer 2011, which retails for just under $10. Also consider the Columbia Crest Two Vines Gewürztraminer 2011, which has lots of acidity, is juicy and has just the right amount of sweetness. It also retails for just under $10.

Another favorite would be the Bonair Gewürztraminer, but you may have to wait for spring for that one.


Fast wine pairings for quick meals

Friday, June 1st, 2012

If your home life is anything like ours, you can relate to the recurring scene that plays out each night in our kitchens as we try to come up with dinner ideas that don’t require hours spent slaving over the stove.

The stack of “15 minute meals” cookbooks continues to grow as we try to keep our taste buds happy with meals that can be prepared quickly.

When it comes time to serve the gourmet meals, we don’t want to slow things down by weighing our wine pairing options.

To meet your quick preparation schedule we’re suggesting various wine selections for Ann Vogel’s “one dish wonders”.

Her Red Pepper Spiced Chicken Rigatoni recipe was tricky to find a perfect wine match in part because of the red pepper flakes, which add a kick to the dish, and also because it combines marinara and alfredo sauces.

But after reviewing our trusty “What to Drink With What You Eat” book by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, we think we’ve got a couple options that could work.

If you opt to lay on thick the red pepper flakes, we recommend selecting a dry Riesling or gewürztraminer, both white wines. The slight sweetness of these wines will balance the heat of the red pepper flakes, while complimenting the rich creaminess of the alfredo sauce.

There are a number of affordable options available at the grocery store for each of these varietals, thanks largely to Riesling being a widely planted grape in Washington.

Look to Pacific Rim, a Washington winery focused on making various styles of Riesling, or Chateau Ste. Michelle for affordable gewürztraminer options. And remember to buy dry, not sweet.

If you’re not into heat and you’d rather drink a red wine with the marinara dominated sauce, consider a barbera. This Italian wine has low tannins, making it a great pair for tomato-based sauces, and high acidity, which again will compliment the richness of the alfredo sauce.

For Vogel’s Quick Couscous Paella, because the ingredients are shellfish and chicken based, we recommend a white Rioja.

This Spanish wine is a perfect summer sipper, and seeing it’s from Spain — where Paella is served regularly — it’s only natural that it would be the perfect accompaniment. Look for Marques de Caceres Rioja Blanco at the grocery store. It’s usually priced between $8 and $10, making it a great deal.


German wine our recommendation for this ‘Swedish’ dish

Friday, April 27th, 2012

There are two ways to look at how to pair this “Swedish” dish depending on your taste buds.

Do you want something tart to pair with the acid of the lemon juice and red wine vinegar in the Sweet and Sour Chicken/Pork/Beef? Or do you want something sweet to pair with the sweeter side of the dish?

Regardless, we have a wine that will meet both requirements: Gewürztraminer.

It’s tough to say but easy to quaff. If you want to sound like you’re in the know, just say “Gah-vertz,” and leave the rest alone.

Gewürzt is made in many styles. Some have low acidity, some are dry and some are just the opposite. But the basic rule of thumb to remember when pairing Gewürzt with food is: How spicy is the dish?

If the meal is spicy, you should consider a wine that is sweeter and lower in acidity. If you like a little less heat, then choose a wine that is drier with higher acidity.

Look for wines from cooler regions like Mendocino in northern California. Navarro Vineyards has dialed into Gewürztraminer like no other winemaker.

Currently, they have five different Gewürztraminers available. The 2009 and 2010 are the drier versions with medium body and the typical intense aromas of lychee, pineapple, floral and spice with crisp acidity.

Their 2009 late harvest has 8 percent residual sugar and is sure to please those that prefer a hot, spicy sweet and sour dish.

Other styles available are a 2006 Late Harvest Cluster with 20 percent residual sugar. Probably not the best choice for this dish at $29 for a 375ml bottle.

And to cover all bases, Navarro makes a non-alcoholic Gewürztraminer that is pure essence of the grape at 20 percent residual sugar.

Navarro Vineyards is a family run winery that has been growing grapes and making wine since 1974. Because they are a small hands-on winery, their wines are sold only at the winery. Their website makes it easier to keep in touch navarrowine.com.


What wine goes with Thai Curry Chicken Wrap?

Friday, August 12th, 2011

When we think of wraps, we think of a light refreshing lunch for a sunny summer day — much like Ann Vogel describes in her recent luncheon on Bainbridge Island.

Initially when we saw wraps as this week’s recipe, we weren’t sure which wine we wanted to recommend.

Luckily for us, Vogel made it easy with her choice of Thai Curry Chicken Salad for the filler of the wrap. In fact, we have two wines we think would pair well with this dish: Gewürztraminer or Riesling.

Both wines fit the light lunch theme and are a refreshing treat on a hot summer day.

Our go-to wine pairing Bible: “What to Drink With What You Eat”, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, says Riesling — especially a Spätlese — is best for chicken or fish with curry sauce. Almost equally it says an Alsatian Gewürztraminer would go well.

Both wines boast a balance of acidity and sugar. Made in the traditional German style, the wines will be sweet and the higher residual sugar levels will be a welcome compliment to the grapes’ main characteristic: acidity.

It’s this balance between the acidity and the hints of sweetness that make these two styles of wine the go-to for most spicy Thai, Indian and Asian dishes.

So what is Spätlese? It’s a German wine term that translates to late (spat) picked (lese). It’s the lightest of the wines that fall under the late harvest category.

Spätlese grapes are picked at least seven days after the normal harvest, making them riper and giving them a higher must weight (the measure of sugar in grape juice).

A Spätlese Riesling has a high level of acidity that balances any overt sweetness; it is “fleshy” and intensely flavored, often with notes of apple, pear and honeysuckle and has an elegant nose with noticeable aromas.

Like the Riesling, the Gewürztraminer, or Gewürz for short, is a German grape known for its aromatics. This grape also grows well in France’s Alsace region. Whereas the Germans make a dry styled wine, the French let the grapes speak, producing a range of styles from dry to dessert wine.

For Vogel’s Thai Curry Chicken Salad Wraps we decided to recommend the same winery for both pairings. And it is by pure coincidence that we’re recommending a winery that has ties to Randall Graham, winemaker of Bonny Doon Vineyards — the winery we recommended for last week’s watermelon and Rose pairing.

Part of the Bonny Doon crowd headed north from California to Washington five years ago with the intent to create the best Riesling in America. The result of those efforts was the establishment of Pacific Rim.

It’s because of the winery’s dedication to Washington Riesling that we recommend its dry Riesling.

We also recommend the winery’s Columbia Valley Gewürz because of its balance of acidity and 2.2 percent residual sugar.

On the next sunny weekend, we suggest holding a summer lunch for friends. Plan to make the wraps and buy a bottle of the Pacific Rim Riesling and Gewürz, then let your guests decide which they like better with the meal.

They’ll have fun choosing, and you’ll look like a coordinated host/hostess with your matching bottles and Asian-themed lunch.


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