here we go again – what to drink at thanksgiving

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Certain wine column topics are de rigueur, at least among those of us who have been scribbling about our favorite beverage for a number of years. None is more inevitable than the Thanksgiving wine column, adumbrating the joys of gewürztraminer.

You know a line has been crossed when PR emails arrive with headlines such as “Spice It Up With Gewürztraminer...” and tout the perfect match of gewürz and pumpkin. OK, not a bad thought, really, but in all honesty, this is not a wine that is likely to grace too many tables after November 22nd.

And that’s too bad. And I’m as guilty as anyone. I wondered how many NW gespurtstraminers I’d reviewed this past year, and checked the Wine Enthusiast database. A grand total of nine! Which, I am embarrassed to say, is about 8.5 bottles more than I opened and drank with meals during the same time frame.

It’s not that I carry a grudge against geslurptraminers. Au contraire, the nine reviews included three scores of 91, a 90, two 88s and three 87s. There were four Best Buys, an Editors’ Choice and a Cellar Selection. I would guess that, despite the very limited sample, no other category of varietal wine could compete with that sort of success.

So what is it about these besmirched-traminers that bugs me? Am I alone, or do others feel the same way? I guess wineries wouldn’t keep producing these wines if they didn’t sell. But other than on Thanksgiving, when, why and with what do you drink this stuff?

I honestly don’t have an answer. I like aromatic white wines, but somehow, this stuff is too aromatic. We don’t want perfume or after shave smells around us when wine tasting, so how is this any different? It’s a grape wearing cheap perfume, basically. Just because it’s an actual grape, does that make it OK?

Well, color me confused. But if you are still searching for that special bottle of geburptraminer to enjoy with your Aunt Millie’s pumpkin surprise in a couple of weeks, look for Dowsett Family, Hyland, Hogue, Columbia Crest Two Vines, Upland Estates, Lone Birch, or this excellent bottle which I just tasted a couple of days ago:

Foris 2011 Dry Gewürztraminer; $14. The lovely, floral-scented aromas are a pure expression of the grape’s unique spice and rose petal characteristics. It’s deeply flavorful, soft, elegant and lingering, with the fruit flavor most often described as lychee.

9 comments:

Greg said...

It is a family tradition at our house on Thanksgiving to drink Gewurtztraminer since 1978.

Anonymous said...

It all depends on who is dining with you and their tolerances and preferences, and the side dishes.

I do like gewurtzes and some reislings with Thanksgiving. It is the odd combinations of casseroles, salads, cheeses, nuts and vegetables that should be considered for really good matches. It's not just about the Bird.

GDFO

Nicolas said...

Don't shoot Gewurztraminer...

Co said...

Please do not take Gewürztraminer for granted...we certainly don't! I agree with Nico...don't shoot..you might miss and hit Semillon by accident.

travelingwinechick.com said...

Other than Thanksgiving, I love Gewürztraminer with spicy Asian food, like Kung Pao Chicken! http://travelingwinechick.com/2011/09/28/kung-pao-chicken-and-foris-gewurztraminer-a-match-made-in-heaven/

travelingwinechick.com said...

May I also recommend Gewürztraminer from the Finger Lakes, such as Anthony Road Wine Company and Red Newt Cellars? I tried them last weekend. Yum, yum!

Chris Dowsett said...

Sorry for the late response, but harvest has been long and crazy!
First I want to thank you for the recommendation. You have been a big supporter of our version since the beginning.
I feel the need to stand up for this wonderful variety. If you wear the belt, you must talk the talk. Much of the negative images of Gewurz come from warm climate versions that are low acid, high rs and smell like grandma's bathroom.
I would suggest trying this variety from wineries in cooler regions like the Alto Aldige in Italy, high altitude vineyards in South America, the Anderson Valley of California, or maybe the Willamette Valley of Oregon. I hear the Columbia Gorge does a good job as well...
The magic of Gewurz with Thanksgiving is based around how it can pair with food that does not usually work with wine. These include salty, savory, spicy and fruity side dishes or even ham. Try the wine with a curry for a non traditional meal. A drier style with fresh seafood can pair with briny flavors and totally change the experience. Try one with some age.
If you object to intensity, you will pass on wonderful wines like Malbec, Zinfandel, Muscat or any hybrids. We could extend the intense food friendly beverages to tequilla or IPAs... Shall we continue on to blue cheese and wasabi?
People who love Gewurz have many amazing food pairing experiences, don't discount these.
After all it is not Viognier.... Just kidding (or am I).....

David Ott said...

Hi Paul,
I'm seconding Whidbey Island Winery's Leah Waaramaki's suggestion of rose'.....enough acid to clense the palate....
Each year's rose' vintage is bracketed by holidays...have it released in time for Easter and down to the last case or so by Thanksgiving.

We'll have a bottle of WIW's Rosato on the table along with a few of our Chanson Rose's....along with a bottle or two to deal with the "a wines first duty is to be red" crowd.

Thanks for the kind words about our wines....
When I get more time to write....yea sure.....I want to add to your discussions on.......most everything....but particularily "crabby" or "grumpy" or "dumb" phases that wines seem to find after bottling....I taste all of our releases at least once a week if not more often, and the taste changes are easy to see mirrored in the changing rate of sales out of the tasting room. Our 09 Grenache was racing off the shelves and suddenly stopped...for about two months.....I'm a digital taster, so it tasted yucky to me...then about 6-8 weeks ago it tasted yummy again, and yes, it's sailing off the shelves again....

Peter Rosback said...

Oh, I should so beat you up for dissing Gewurz. I'll save that and beat you up for not posting anything new for over a week!

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