Swiss Wine Regions

Glossary of A

A.O.C.

French. Abbreviation for Appellation d’origine contrôlée (controlled designation of origin)

A.P. number

German. Abbreviation for Amtliche Prüfnummer which is Germany’s attempt to reduce massive confusion generated from most German wine labels. It is a unique, official number designating region, village, estate, unique bottling number, and year of tasting (usually the year after the vintage).

Acid

There are four major acids found in wine: tartaric, malic, lactic and citric. Acid is identifiable by the crisp, fresh character it imparts to a wine’s palate. Too much can lead to a sharp, sour taste; too little can leave a wine flabby and out of balance.

Acidity

The quality of tartness, sourness and sharpness that gives wine its crispiness and vitality. A proper balance of acidity must be struck with the other elements of a wine, or else the wine may be said to be too sharp (having disproportionately high levels of acidity) or too flat (having disproportionately low levels of acidity).

Acrid

A tasting term for wine with too much acidity.

Aftertaste

A tasting term for the taste left on the palate after wine has been swallowed.

Aging barrel

A barrel, often made of oak, used to age wine or distilled spirits.

Alcohol

Ethyl alcohol (C2H5OH) is produced by the action of natural or added yeast on grape sugars during fermentation.

Altar wine

The wine used by the Catholic Church in celebrations of the Eucharist.

Alternative wine closures

Various substitutes used in the wine industry for sealing wine bottles in place of traditional cork closures.

American hybrid

Grape varieties which have been crossbred from American and European vines.

Ampelography

The branch of botany concerned with identification and classification of grapevines. Traditionally this was done by comparing the shape and color of vine leaves and grape berries. It has been revolutionized by DNA fingerprinting.

Amphora

A type of ceramic vase, used for transporting and storing wine in ancient times.

Angel’s share

The portion of a wine in an aging barrel that is lost to evaporation.

Anthocyanin

Phenolic pigments that give red wine its color.

Appellation

A recognised wine-growing region.

Aroma

The smell of a wine. The term is generally applied to younger wines, while the term bouquet is reserved for more aged wines.

Ascorbic acid

A natural component found in wine that is sometimes added to prevent oxidation occurring. If ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) has been added, the wine label will show Antioxidant 300 added.

Astringent

Describes a harsh, dry, mouth-puckering sensation, usually due to high levels of tannin or acids present in red wines (and some whites).

ATF

Abbreviation for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a United States government agency which is primarily responsible for the regulation of wines sold and produced in the United States.

Austere

Generally meant to indicate a wine that has flavors that are closed. In other words, without strong recognizable varietal or oak characters.

Glossary by Letter

  • A (21)
  • B (36)
  • C (38)
  • D (17)
  • E (8)
  • F (24)
  • G (5)
  • H (7)
  • I (4)
  • J (2)
  • K (1)
  • L (10)
  • M (25)
  • N (5)
  • O (10)
  • P (23)
  • Q (1)
  • R (13)
  • S (31)
  • T (21)
  • U (2)
  • V (22)
  • W (11)
  • Y (2)
  • Z (1)

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Pinot blanc

Pinot blanc is a mutation of Pinot Gris. It may have found its way up the Rhône to Valais with any number of mercenaries returning to Switzerland, and today small quantities are cultivated in many Swiss wine regions. When grown in favorable conditions it produces a fruity wine with good acidity.

Pinot Noir

Genetic studies have revealed that Pinot Noir is probably one of the two ancestors (the other being the humble Gouais) of some of the most important vines cultivated in Europe today. It is certainly a particularly ancient variety, and originally from Burgundy. Pinot Noir, with its associated clones, is found all over Switzerland, but it is only in the eastern region that it dominates production. It is either produced as a varietal or blended with other grapes. These blends are known as Salvagnin in Vaud and Dôle in Valais. Depending on where it is grown, it can produce a wine that is either light and fruity, or rich and full-bodied.

Gewürztraminer

The name Gewürztraminer is obviously German, although the origin of the grape is the Tyrollean Alps, near the village of Termeno (Tramin) in Alto Adige, Italy. Gewürz is German for spice. The vine is evidently a pain in the ass to grow and does best in cooler climates. In Germany the wine of this grape is often made off-dry, in Alsace it’s dry and floral, and in Switzerland it produces a wide range. Gewürztraminer is one of the most pungent wine varietals and reasonably easy to identify with just your nose. It is one of the few wine that can hold its own with spicy Asian food.

Wine comes in at the mouth And love comes in at the eye; That's all we shall know for truth Before we grow old and die. I lift the glass to my mouth, I look at you, and sigh.

William Butler Yeats

Swiss Alps, cows, wine bottle and large clock face in Bern, Switzerland

Fine Swiss Wine

Discover Switzerland’s odd grapes, small producers, and eclectic tastes