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Gewurztraminer: Fun to Say, Fun to Drink

Three full-bodied whites for your holiday table

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Traminer, a green-berried wine grape named for the village of Tramin in northern Italy, mutates easily. In one case, it evolved into the pink-berried grape gewurztraminer, native to the Alsace region of France. This full-bodied white with opulent aromatics is a bit of a tongue twister (guh-verts-truh-meen-er). It translates from the German as "spicy traminer," and while it's responsible for some outstanding dessert wines, it makes a great match for holiday meals (as well as Asian cuisine) in its drier format. Here are three worthy examples:

2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewurztraminer, $7.99

Alsatian white varieties thrive in the Northwest, and gewurztraminer is no exception. This wine opens with dusty rose, green apple and melon aromas backed by a touch of candied ginger. There's a lively tingle to the palate that's filled with crisp lemon, lime and grapefruit flavors. Don't let the price fool you--an amazing value from a Washington icon.

2012 Lucien Albrecht Reserve Gewurztraminer, $22

Bursting with floral aromas of perfumed rose petal, juicy stone fruit, honeyed spice and lychee nut, this wine is round and rich in the mouth, with ripe apricot flavors nicely balanced by bright citrus. The finish is silky smooth with a classic hit of spice and a touch of lemon zest. This is a nice example of the Alsatian style with just a hint of sweetness.

2010 Trimbach Gewurztraminer, $25

What do you get when one of the top family wineries in Alsace produces a wine in one of that region's best vintages? An elegantly dry wine with an undeniable richness. Bold peach and spicy melon aromas are marked by an intriguing and varietally appropriate bit of petrol. Big, creamy fruit flavors break out of this beautifully structured wine, lingering with an amazing persistence.