Swiss Wine Regions

Glossary of C

Calcareous

Calcareous soils are alkaline, composed of calcium carbonate.

California cult wines

Certain California wines for which consumers and others pay higher prices than those of Bordeaux’s First Growths (Premiers Crus).

Canopy

The above-ground parts of the vine, especially the shoots and leaves.

Canopy management

A range of viticultural techniques used to manipulate the vine canopy. This is done for vine shape, interception of sunlight and disease control.

Cap

The thick cap of grape skins floating on top of the fermenting red wine.

Capsule

The plastic or foil that covers the cork and part of the neck of a wine bottle.

Carbon dioxide

The gas given off during fermentation which is responsible for the bubbles in sparkling wines.

Carbonic Maceration

When whole bunches of grapes are allowed to ferment to produce an early-maturing wine style, such as Beaujolais.

Carbonic maceration

A winemaking practice of fermenting whole grapes that have not been crushed.

Cellaring

To age wine for the purpose of improvement or storage. Cellaring may occur in any area which is cool (12-15° Celsius).

Chai

A wine shed, or other storage place above ground, used for storing casks, common in Bordeaux. Usually different types of wine are kept in separate sheds.

Champagne

Champagne is a sparkling wine made by the Méthode Champenoise. Sparkling wine may only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France.

Champagne flute

A piece of stemware having a long stem with a tall, narrow bowl on top.

Chaptalization

A winemaking process where sugar is added to the must to increase the alcohol content in the fermented wine. This is often done when grapes have not ripened adequately.

Charmat process

The Charmat or bulk process is a method where sparkling wines receive their secondary fermentation in large tanks, rather than individual bottles as seen in Méthode Champenoise

Château

Generally a winery in Bordeaux, although the term is sometimes used for wineries in other parts of the world, such as the Barossa Valley.

Chewy

Describes rich, tannic wines that seem to be thick and full in the mouth. A positive quality in many red wines.

Claret

British name for Bordeaux wine. Is also a semi-generic term for a red wine in similar style to that of Bordeaux.

Clarification

To make a wine clear through fining, filtration and refrigeration.

Cleanskin

In Australia, wine bottled without a commercial label, usually sold cheaply in bulk quantities.

Clone

A grape variety which has undergone some genetic adaptation from the original.

Cloying

An excessively sweet wine that may seem to be out of balance due to low acidity.

Cold Duck

A mixture of red and white sparkling wine that has a high sugar content.

Cold stabilization

A winemaking process where wine is chilled to near freezing temperatures for several weeks to encourage the precipitation of tartrate crystals.

Color

In wine, an extremely important indicator of quality and condition. Darker colors in whites usually indicate older wines, while red wines tend to turn a tawny, brick red color with age.

Complexity

A combination of richness, depth of flavor, intensity, balance, harmony and finesse. An essential element in all great wines (and most good ones).

Cork

A wine bottle stopper made from the thick outer bark of the cork oak tree.

Cork taint

A type of wine fault describing undesirable aromas and flavors in wine often attributed to mold growth on chlorine bleached corks.

Corked

A wine with an off-flavor caused by trichloroanisole (TCA) in the cork. Generally described as moldy, it effects about 3% of wines worldwide.

Corkscrew

A tool, comprising a pointed metallic helix attached to a handle, for drawing corks from bottles.

Country wine
Crackling

Semi-sparkling wine; slightly effervescent. Also called frizzante.

Crémant

French sparkling wine not made in Champagne region.

Crust

Sediment, generally potassium bitartrate, that adheres to the inside of a wine bottle.

Cult wines

Wines for which committed buyers will pay large sums of money.

Cultivar

Another term for grape variety.

Cuve

A large vat used for fermentation.

Cuvee

The pressing, or a blending of several wines.

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

Sémillon

Hard to believe that Sémillon’s main claim to fame is its propensity to rot, but because of its soft skin Sémillon is prone to Botrytis cinerea (a.k.a. “noble rot”). The “rot” concentrates the acid and sugar in the grape, and the resulting wine can be complex, rich, sweet, and aromatic. In short: pretty damn nice. The best known of this sweet style wine is Sauternes, coming from the Sauternais region of the Graves, near Bordeaux in France.

Sémillon can also make an elegant dry white wine, but since it can be short on acidity, it is often vinified with Sauvignon blanc.

Johannisberg

Second in white wines of Valais (after Fendant). The name Johannisberg is only used in Valais; the rest of French-speaking Switzerland call it Gros Rhin. The grape used to make Johannisberg is the Grüner Sylvaner. The origin of the grape is not clear. On the one hand it strongly resembles the Roman Apianisien (loved by bees) grape, as described by Pliny the Elder in his “Historia naturalis”, on the other hand, its more likely birthplace is in Romanian Transylvania.

Merlot

Imported from the Bordeaux region, Merlot has found a second home in Ticino where it performs extremely well. Later-ripening than the other main Swiss varieties, it is hardly present in other areas. Merlot red wines are racy, tannic and richly colored. A white wine from this black grape, commercialized as Merlot Bianco, gives quite interesting results and is increasingly popular with producers and consumers alike.

Drink wine, and you will sleep well. Sleep well and you will not sin. Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved.

Medieval German saying

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