I ran out of money wrapped up my stay in Italy this week, and landed back in Deutschland for a few days of exploring before heading home. Today, I’m on the road with Uncle Bill, and we’re moving away from the Mosel and into Alsace, France–a region known for a plethora of distinctive wines, and quaint small towns.
Variety is the spice of life Alsace. The region is well-known for its Rieslings, spicy Gewurztraminers, Pinot Gris (also called Tokay), and for some light Pinot Noirs. Many of them mirror the characteristics of German wines, since the soil in Alsace is similar to that of its eastern neighbor. Gewurztraminer is a new find for me, so my focus is there.
The name of the grape is the means “spicy traminer,” which refers to the taste and region where the variety originated in Italy, although most people agree that the best Gewurztraminers come from Alsace.
I tend to think of white wines as more feminine, but in Alsace Gewurz proved me wrong. If Pinot Grigio is the token cute blonde girl, this variety is the spicy, well-perfumed metrosexual hot guy of white wines (Think Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid Love–a little gay when it comes to clothing, but way too sexy to resist). Unlike most whites, Gewurztraminer can hold its own against stronger flavored foods, and is spicy and evolves across the palette. However, depending on when the grapes are picked, it can also be made into sweet dessert wines.
Ryan Goslings tend to go well with smoked cheeses, oysters, and other spicy (read: sexy) foods. Mmmmm Ryan Gosling.
I grabbed a few different bottles for the dinner party we were planning, and was reminded why vineyard visits are so much fun. Not only did the winemaker, a rosy-cheeked cherub, give us great deals as well as information on the winemaking process and the grapes, we also got a private tour of the ancient cellar.
It’s moments like these that leave me feeling extra happy about buying vin, the good natured-ness of the winemakers only encourages me. Conviently, Gewurztraminers are a great white for aging.
(Uncle Bill is a champion when it comes to this. He’s known for coming home from Alsace with 10 or more cases of wine saying, “I have to fill up the cellar somehow, its great wine, and the lady was so nice.”)
Fun Facts:Alsace–and its neighboring province,
Lorraine–have been passed back and forth between Germany and France for centuries.
Best Time to visit: October-January, when wine and holiday festivals abound.
Definitely try: Gewurztraminer!
Quiche Lorraine–yes, the classic ham and cheese originated here.
Don’t Miss: Metz–this small city has a fantastic cathedral, tons of WWII history, and one of the best fresh markets I’ve had the pleasure of discovering.