You want something other than same old, same old Chardonnay? Turned off by the austerity of Sauvignon Blanc? With more umlauts than an 80s hair metal tribute band, we break down the aromatic whites of Germany and Austria:
Gewurztraminer is a flamboyant, fragrant, and showy wine with a full, fat mouthfeel and low natural acidity. With typical aromas of roses and tropical fruit, Gewürz is best known as a simple, early-drinking off-dry wine. Premier examples show more complexity in the glass, exhibiting notes of spice, cinnamon, ginger, and musk. Pair Gewürz with Chinese or Vietnamese (seriously, try it!), oily fish, and soft cheese.
“Grü-Ve” takes pride of place in Austria’s wine scene (it’s grown almost nowhere else), with plantings that date back to the Roman Empire. For such a gluggable, fresh white this wine has amazing complexity: overtones of citrus and peach with spicy white pepper, smoke, and apple. It’s also amazingly food friendly, finding happy matches with everything from cold asparagus to spicy-hot Szechuan dishes.
A 19th-century hybrid of Riesling and Silvaner, Müller-Thurgau brings very fresh, floral, “grapey” character to blends like Liebfraumilch and Piesporter. With low acid and immediate fruitiness, these refreshing and approachable off-dry whites are wines of the moment, not meant for cellaring.
A demanding grape capable of creating sublimely age-worthy wines, Riesling is the Grande Dame of these aromatic whites. Vinified dry, off-dry, or as an intense botrytis-kissed late harvest dessert wine, you’ll find flowers, citrus, mineral, unctuous honey, spice, and a streak of fruity acidity that is the key to Riesling’s longevity in the bottle. As with other wines in this flight, Riesling is a natural match for Asian cuisine as well as white fish, chicken, and pork.