"Honeyed" is a pretty good one-word summary of the appeal, to those with a taste for sweet but structured wine, of the 2011 Fetzer "Shady Loam" gewurztraminer, a spice-edged white readily available on local supermarket shelves at about $10.
We're not fans of sweet wines red or white, but this California gewurz is a very good choice if you are. It is complex, well-made and offers more than sweetness. Its chief appeal, in our book, is its compatibility with fiery cuisines like the spiciest Thai and Szechuan dishes. It both complements the heat and tames it.
The wine opens with a robust bouquet of apricot, orange blossoms and cinnamon. On the tongue it offers a complex flavor profile compounded of apricot, honey, ginger, a medley of citrus high notes and maybe even a bit of ripe pear. It finishes clean and long but not dry, faintly floral with smidges of white pepper and clementines chiming in at the end.
If you're not into incendiary fare, try this gewurz with a grilled sandwich of cheddar and sliced pears or with pork tenderloin marinated in mild five-spice and citrus juice.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.