There’s More To Gewürztraminer’s Meaning Than You Think!

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Wine baring grapevines have been grown in Italy, Greece, and Northern Africa since the time of the ancient kingdom and the first civilizations to grace the fertile crescent in between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. 

However, there are few grapes with the history of Gewürztraminer; the word itself is the key. This cool, climate-loving grapevine has made its way over mountains and into the hearts of many wine enthusiasts worldwide.


There’s a difference between the meaning and definitions of Gewürztraminer?

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the simple difference between the definition and meaning is thus; the meaning of Gewürztraminer: 

“German, variety of Grape, from Gewürz (spice) + Traminer, variety of grape, from Tramin (Termeno, Italy),” and the definition: “A light dry Alsatian white wine with a spicy bouquet.” 

The fundamental difference is that the word’s meaning refers to the parent grapes and possibly location and lineage, and the definition refers to the vintage from Alsace, France. 

Pouring wine into a glass on a wooden surface outside - Gewürztraminer’s Meaning.

What does the name Gewürztraminer mean?

The name has a bit of a historical twist to it. Gewürz is the German word for spice or perfume, which hints at the possible connection with its Rhin River neighbor Germany. 

Traminer, at the root of the word, connects this grape with the parent grape that originates in the Dolomite mountains, in a small town amongst the Alto-Adige near the Swiss Alps, in Northern Italy called Tramin (or Termeno). 

The name hints at the evolution and immigration of the Gewürz and Tramin-grown grape, which has a legend of passing through the Swiss Alps, traversing the German Rhine valley, until it met the perfect conditions of Alsace, France, along the banks of the Rhin River. 

In other terms, Gewürztraminer means spiced wine or perfumed wine from Tramin. 


Is Gewürztraminer an Italian word?

Simple answer, yes and no. Gewürz is German, while Traminer refers to Tramin, Italy. The town itself has a demographic of two-thirds Germanic heritages, with the other third predominantly having Italian heritage. 

When asked what Gewürztraminer is in Italian, the response was, “Traminer aromatic.” So, the answer is a partial no. 


Why is the wine named Gewürztraminer?

European names are infamous for helping trace their lineage of it; wine names from Europe are no exception. 

Gewürztraminer’s name is for its German spices, lychee berries, and parent grape from Tramin. It describes a sweet spiced, fragrant white wine from the German-Italian Dolomite Mountain town of Tramin (Termeno).


Who decided to name a wine Gewürztraminer? 

The people of Tramin/Termeno, Italy. In the 11th to 16th century, this spiced clone of Traminer began growing on the mountainsides of the Dolomite Mountains range. 

The town was said to have roots in Celtic culture when a standing stone named Menhir was discovered in 1880, which dates to the 2nd century BCE. 

It was not until the later 10th and early 11th century AD that the name “Termeno” was mentioned on a document about ground rent. Around the 11th century, the spiced variety of Traminer was said to have been planted and made into wine. 

Final Thoughts on Gewürztraminer ‘s Meaning

Gewürztraminer translates to spiced Traminer, referring to the fragrant-smelling bouquet and sweet-tasting vintage from the mountain town of Termeno. 

The Alsace, France variation of the white wine has become the leader in quality Gewürztraminer vintages, but the grapevine originates from a Northern Italian town found in the Dolomite mountains.