Spiced Traminer

There’s something civilized about a small glass of dessert wine after a meal. Whether an accompaniment or a replacement for a plate of something sweet, it’s a thoughtful way to end a dinner. Recently we’ve been offering our guests a splash of Pommeau, our new favorite cordial, but with some desserts the pairing can be even more purposeful.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 9.45.37 AMGewurztraminer (pronounced guh-VOORT-stra-MEEN-er) is a signature grape of Alsace. The grape’s high natural sugar content encourages its use for dessert wine, and when balanced with good acidity it can be extraordinarily complex. With the American fear of dessert wine in mind, we don’t import much — sometimes just a case or two for our personal cellar.

But all three restaurants Christophe Mersiol visited this month asked us to supply some of his Grand Cru Gewurztraminer for their dessert courses. We obliged, and we’re certainly happy we did — it was many diners’ favorite wine of the evening. We sold quite a bit of it out of the Newton Depot yesterday afternoon, but we’re offering now what’s left.

Salt and Sweet

Mersiol’s Gewurztraminer comes from the Grand Cru Frankstein vineyard, known for the high granite content in its soil. The aromatic notes in the wine are so many and so complex that it’s difficult to pin them down — mango, orange rind, and dried roses come to mind. The mouth is noticeably sweet, but less than most Sauternes, and well-balanced by stony minerality and good acidity.

The wine is as comfortable next to a ripe, salty cheese as a delicate pear tart. Both of our Boston restaurants chose the cheese route: one chose soft, gooey Muenster, and one chose Fourme d’Ambert blue. The wave of sweet, spiced fruit from the wine crashed beautifully into the salty, savory, creamy cheese.

We don’t serve dessert wine at every dinner, and we never serve very much. But with the holidays around the corner this is a good time to try it out. To encourage experimentation we’re relaxing our 6 bottle minimum to 3. Place a glass of Gewurz next to a plate of cookies, or a slice of pie, and your guests won’t soon forget it.

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