I’ve been wanting to do a Gewurztraminer review here for a while and I’m finally getting around to one today. And at the same time I’m wading into what might be the most debated wine pairing topic: Asparagus. I’m not going to spend a lot of time debating which wines go best with asparagus, I’ll just share this experience. Fellow wine blogger Neil at Brooklynguy’s Food and Wine Blog wrote a post about pairing wine with asparagus just a couple weeks ago, so you can check out his post if you’re interested. I agree with Neil’s position that the challenge of pairing wine with asparagus is exaggerated. And I also agree with his choice, Gewurztraminer—although the one he selected is drier than the one I had.
I will note that I didn’t pair this wine with straight asparagus, but rather with a shrimp and asparagus risotto. The strength of the asparagus flavor is a bit diluted in this dish, which probably makes pairing a wine with it even easier. I found the original recipe here, but altered it a bit to suit my tastes. Here’s what I did:
Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto
5 ounces of Arborio rice
4 ounces of asparagus, cut in one-inch pieces
4 ounces of boiled shrimp
4 cups of shrimp stock
½ cup of Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of chopped shallot
1 ½ teaspoons of chopped parsley
1 cup of dry white wine
- In a pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over a medium heat.
- Add shallots and cook until translucent.
- Add asparagus and cook for another minute.
- Add Arborio rice and toast lightly for about 2 minutes.
- Add the wine and stir continuously until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Gradually add the shrimp stock, about a ¼ cup at a time, stirring constantly.
- When the rice has absorbed all of the stock, add the shrimp and stir gently for 2 minutes.
- Once done, add the parsley and Parmesan cheese.
It had been a while since I’ve made risotto and I’m reminded both of why I don’t make it very often and why I should make it more frequently. It’s a lot of work, constantly stirring the rice to make this properly, but the end result is scrumptious.
Getting back to the wine, this is an off-dry to slightly sweet Gewurztraminer from the Alsace region in France. This is a region known for extraordinary white wines with rich mineral characteristics. While you can find some Gewurztraminer that is dry, more often than not it will be slightly sweet.
The Ruhlmann family, from which Domaine Ruhlmann-Schutz was born, has been producing wine in the Alsace region since 1688. The vines from which the grapes were harvested are old too, but not THAT old. They are 30 year old vines and as such produce small quantities of fruit, but the fruit that is produced is concentrated in flavor, and that is evident in the taste of this wine.
The nose is very intense and is brimming with rich floral aromas. Violets, rose, pear, lemon peel and mineral nearly overwhelm the senses. You can taste some of the floral notes on the palate as well, along with crisp pear, a hint of honey, lychee, lemon and mineral. I have, in the past, scoffed at wine reviews that mention lychee, because it’s so meaningless to most people… not everyone has tasted lychee. But it’s there, I can’t deny it. And it’s the best way to describe the flavor that I found in this wine.
In addition to the exceptional nose and palate, there is outstanding length on the finish. All the way around this is a great wine. In fact, it scored a 90 with me. And although some wines from Alsace can get pricey, this one is very reasonable at $15. An awesome deal.
Wine: Ruhlmann – Vieilles Vignes
Find Ruhlmann – Vieilles Vignes Gewurztraminer with Snooth