I think of all the wines and grapes I've introduced people to, Gewurztraminer is the most polarizing. People either love it or hate it. Those that hate it often believe it's a very sweet wine, which it can be as it is vinified in a variety of styles. Others find its aggressive aroma off-putting; it's very floral and fruity with aromas of roses, gardenias, peaches, mangoes and lychee. Those that love it have come to know its spiciness as unique and easy to distinguish. They know it's a great accompaniment to spicy foods such as Asian cuisine or Indian cuisine. Some just avoid it since it's so hard to pronounce. Ga-verz-tra-meaner.
The first time I had a Gewurztraminer was in college. It was probably at the first wine tasting I had ever attended. At this point I was a fan of sweeter wines and was often seen drinking wine spritzers made with Piesporter Michelsburg, which at the time, I didn't even know was a Riesling. One of the group had brought the Gewurztraminer. We had no idea how to pronounce it, so we just called it #2, the order in which we tasted it. We liked it, yet never figured out how to pronounce it so for years after we always referred to it as #2.
As time went on, I moved on to other wines, often finding the Gewurztraminer in restaraunts too sweet as my palate started to perfer drier styles, until one day when I had my first taste of Singapore cuisine at Straits in San Francisco.
Singapore and Malaysian cuisine is wonderfully flavorful and spicy, dominated by ginger, garlic, coconut, lemongrass and chilies. Straits did a wonderful thing and had wine recommendations for each of their dishes and that's how I found one of my favorite Gewurztraminers by Navarro of Mendocino.
This wine is not the typical sweet Gewurztraminer you often find on the wine by the glass list. It's a dry wine yet still incredibly aromatic and fruity. It's been hit with most everyone who's tried it. This wine is worth seeking out, yet you may need to order direct from the winery. Good news, however, if you order a case you will get a discount and they often give free shipping. And they have many other wonderful wines. You can even order one of their sampler packs. Here are the tasting notes for the Dry Gewurztraminer from their web site:
Floral aromas leap out of the glass in the 2008 bottling and the flavors suggest peach, quince and lychee. There are hints of vanilla from the oak casks and yeasty notes from aging on the yeast. It is dry, refreshingly tart and balanced to complement sausages, curry or Pad Thai. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.