Gewürztraminer – more than a mouthful

You don’t need to know how to say it to enjoy it, but who doesn’t want to sound smarter at dinner parties right!?

It’s one of the more unique wine varietals, not to mention one of the more difficult to pronounce. Gewürztraminer (say it with us, “Geh-VIRTZ-trah-MEE-ner”) is a seriously underrated wine that is making a stellar comeback this party season.

If you are yet to try Generations Gewurz by Allan Scott Family Winemakers, close your eyes and think Mediterranean Sea… warm air, cool water and a soft breeze carrying fragrant, exotic spices from afar. Just one sip and you’ll experience an intense lychee punch and tickly spice finish, without the over-the-top soapiness associated with some new world Gewürztraminer varieties.

The interesting thing about Gewurz is that it can tame food dishes other white wines can only dream of such as truffles, foie gras and piping hot curries. It’s flamboyant in the mouth yet balanced and elegant – the perfect combination of sassy and sweet.

After tasting the oh-so delicious new Generations Gewurz for the first time, the Undertow Media team was dead set on launching this new varietal to the masses and making it more welcoming for all Kiwis. Because let’s be honest – it can be intimidating to drink a wine with a name you can’t even pronounce. Especially if you’re on a date. Or trying to impress your in-laws.

With the Gewurz’s unique Asian and Mediterranean food matches in mind, it was only fitting we call on our friends at Very Good Dumplings, Auckland’s favourite food truck offering delicious and authentic balls of delight, to join us at the launch. Given the only thing better than wine at midday is wine AND dumplings at midday – the RSVP list was bursting.

We turned a cosy wee space on Richmond Road full oriental with foliage, wooden barrels, steamers, fans and other Asian-infused elements to set a ‘noodle night market’ vibe and provide plenty of Instagram-worthy touch points. There were also bowls of fortune cookies with personalised ‘Allanisms’ inside (classic Allan Scott sayings and words of advice) which went down a treat.

While lead winemaker Josh Scott held court with a special wine tasting, Allan introduced the Generations range and explained the meaning behind the name.

We had a fantastic turnout and secured strong online, social and print coverage in top publications (including MiNDFOOD, The Urban List, Taste, Fresh NZ, National Business Review, Nadia, Kia Ora and NZ Herald – Viva) with a whopping 953,054 opportunities to be seen.

Josh made an interesting point when taking guests through the tasting – he explained that most Kiwis identify themselves as ‘wine novices’ or ‘wine enthusiasts’ at best (certainly not ‘connoisseurs’).

Since now we all know how to pronounce Gewürztraminer, we thought we’d share a few tips from Josh to ensure we all head into the party season with confidence…

Wine 101 Josh Scott

Help – I know nothing about wine and don’t know where to start! What varietal should I go for?

From Riesling to Champagne to Merlot – getting your head around wine can be confusing. Start with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Sauvy, my personal favourite, is the backbone on the NZ wine industry. It has lots of tropical and herbaceous aromas, and is very, very food friendly. Pinot Noir on the other hand is full of red fruits and is easy to drink with a silky palate.

Please explain (in English!) some of the most common wine descriptors

  • Oaky/nutty – wine that has seen wood (generally found in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) which can also give toasty, smoky characters
  • Full-bodied/round – wine that is full of flavour and rich on the palate. Some wines are quite light in style and easy drinking, whereas full-bodied wines usually have a lot more grunt
  • Grassy – think freshly mowed lawn… grassy is almost always a sauvy descriptor
  • Floral – wine that is light, pretty and has lots of flower and garden aromas. Floral is mainly used as a descriptor for aromatic wines, but sometimes you hear lighter Pinot Noirs described as floral
  • Dry – no sweetness in the wine whatsoever

What’s the ‘correct’ way to hold a wine glass?

There’s no right or wrong, but common etiquette is to hold the glass by its stem. This ensures you don’t warm the wine with your hand.

How long do different types of wine last once opened?

If you open a bottle of wine it’s always best consumed straight away. Red wine is really only good for one night, whereas white wines will last for a few days in the fridge.

I’ve always put a teaspoon in my opened bottles of sparkling… does this actually help it to stay fresh?

Using a teaspoon does nothing but make you look gullible, unfortunately! Wine preservers help extend the life of a wine, but to be honest, it’s best to just drink the whole thing!

What is the correct process for tasting wine?

The process is always sight, smell, taste, spit (or consume). There are no special tricks – simply take your time to appreciate the many different aspects of a wine and the experience that comes with opening a new bottle.

When it comes to food and wine pairings, what are the basic rules?

There are two avenues to follow when matching wine and food – contrasting flavours can work really well, however the safer (and more common) approach is matching flavours that are harmonious. Some tips for beginners – dry whites are great with seafood, aromatic white (sweet white) wines are great with spicy food, and reds are all about gamey dishes and red meats.

So, now that you’re in transition from novice to enthusiast, simply stock up the fridge with a few bottles of wine, make an extravagant cheese platter, then invite your friends/date/in-laws over and knock their socks off with your impeccable pronunciation of ‘Gewürztraminer.’ You’re welcome.