A Grape By Any Other Name: Traminer Aromatico & Gewurztraminer

Photograph by Jean Trimbach

Photograph by Jean Trimbach

*A Grape By Any Other Name posts are about exploring different grape varieties known by other names or nicknames, both inside and outside of Italy.

Traminer Aromatico gets its name from the grape Traminer (named after the village of Tramin in Tyrol/Alto Adige).  As the name might suggest, it’s a more “aromatic” mutation of the Traminer grape.  This unique pink-skinned grape is classified as a “grey” grape – meaning it’s somewhere in between a black and white grape varietal.  It’s wines are opulent and intense with a fuller body than might be typical for a lot of other white wines.  Common aromas are exotic lychee, roses, honeysuckle, baking spices, ginger, pear, and sometimes seemingly unusual descriptors like “old lady perfume”.  It can make dry, medium-sweet wines, and rich dessert wines. Italian Traminer Aromatico wines tend to be on the drier side and almost “hoppy” in flavors and aromas.

 Traminer Aromatico has lots of synonyms.

  • Domestically (=in Italy):  Gewurztraminer/Gewürztraminer.  The choice to label the bottle with one of these German or French synonyms might be in part to appeal to the international market because folks are more likely to recognize this wine by a non-Italian name.
  • Internationally (=everywhere else): Gewurztraminer (France/Alsace); Gewürztraminer (Germany, Austria, USA); Tramini (Hungary); Traminac (Slovenia); Drumin, Pinat Cervena, or Liwora (Czech Republic, Slovakia); Rusa (Romania); Mala Dinka (Bulgaria)

Why so many names?
A lot of different areas of Europe (and even as far east as Russia and Ukraine) cultivate and vinify this grape.  The variation in languages is primarily what accounts for the differing names, especially when you consider that a lot of its names literally mean the same thing.  For example, Traminer Aromatico means “Aromatic Traminer” while Gewürztraminer means “Spiced” or “Perfumed” Traminer.

Further, some countries/regions might not differentiate between Traminer and any mutated relative such as Traminer Aromatico/Gewürztraminer.

Some Wines with Traminer Aromatico/Gewürztraminer:

Alsace- Gewurztraminer (France), $-$$$, among some of the most famous examples of this grape Alsatian Gewurztraminers tend to be off-dry, full bodied, with exotic aromas and sometimes savory notes.  Less complex wines offer inexpensive but good value wines.  Grand Cru wines (there are 51) or Vieilles Vignes (=old vines) will cost more but offer a more intense and ageworthy wine.  Also used for sweet wines, look for Vendange Tardive or Sélection de Grains Nobles (SGN for short).

Traminer Aromatico/Gewürztraminer (Italy), $-$$, typically found in Italy’s northeastern regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Alto Adige, these are some of the driest examples of this grape around.  Dry versions are full bodied, deeper colored, and have exotic pear-meets-hops aromas.  Off-dry examples tend to be more complex and offer more exotic fruit flavors. Traminer Aromatico is however decreasingly planted due to its larger success and recognition abroad.

Oregon/Washington State Gewürztraminer (USA), $-$$, America’s Pacific Northwest has in recent years started to gain worldwide attention for some amazing wines.  Riesling is still planted much more then Gewürztraminer, however there are some pretty successful examples of wines that resemble in some ways the Alsatian examples.  

Aubrie Talarico

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2 Responses to A Grape By Any Other Name: Traminer Aromatico & Gewurztraminer

  1. Pingback: Italian Wine Quiz: #1 | Veni Vidi Vino – Italian Wine and Wine Culture

  2. Pingback: Italian Wine Regions: Abruzzo | Veni Vidi Vino – Italian Wine and Wine Culture

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