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Gewurztraminer

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Gewurztraminer. It's an awkward name, but while it may be difficult to spell or pronounce, it isn't difficult to recognize. With its perfumed aromas, intense fruit flavors and touch of spice, most everyone can identify it on first sniff or sip. This full-bodied white works well in winter, and it pairs well with a variety of foods--everything from holiday meals to Asian cuisine. And its popularity is spreading across the globe. Here are the top picks, hailing from three very different wine regions:

2008 Cono Sur Vision Gewurztraminer, $12.99

Cono Sur is one of Chile's hottest properties and this wine helps to show why. It's a bit closed in at first, but really shines after opening and reveals honeydew melon, rose petal, mineral, fresh herb and litchi nut. The flavors are centered on crisp citrus and green apple with a spicy back note and a sweet peach finish that lingers nicely. This is a great wine made in a crowd-pleasing style.

2007 Helfrich Gewurztraminer, $8.99

This is a classic Alsatian Gewurz from a family-owned winery that dates back to 1934. It opens with unctuous aromas of candied fruit, sweet apple, honeycomb and a nice touch of bacon fat that's often typical of this variety. Just as rich in the mouth with a spicy, fresh-baked apple-pie quality, a nice creamy texture and just the right hit of crisp acidity. The perfect winter warmer at a great price.

2007 Ste. Chapelle Dry Gewurztraminer, $6.99

From Idaho's oldest winery--30 years and counting--this particular wine has always been one of their best. The 2007 has that characteristic note of bacon fat on the nose, along with lavender, apricot, rose hip and spice. It leads off with bright citrus flavors of lemon, lime and grapefruit, followed by just sweet peach and mango. Closes with a light minerality on the crisp, clean finish. It's a local wine and an exceptional bargain.

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