Swiss Wine Regions

Glossary of O

Oak

Quality picked up by wines fermented and/or stored in oak barrels. American oak gives a more intense vanilla and coconut flavor, while French oak gives a delicate vanilla, cedar and butterscotch character.

Oak chips

Small pieces of oak wood used in place of oak barrels in fermenting and/or ageing wine.

Oechsle

The German measure for the sugar concentration in grape juice or wine.

Oenology

The science of wine and winemaking.

Oenophile

A wine aficionado or connoisseur.

Off-dry

A wine that has the barest hint of sweetness; a slightly sweet wine in which the residual sugar is barely perceptible.

Old vine

Wine produced from vines that are notably old.

Old World wine

Wines produced inside of the traditional wine growing areas of Europe and North Africa.

Oxidation

Exposure to oxygen causes wine to go brown and flat. Oxidation creates bitterness and destroys flavour.

Oxygen

A gas vital for the growth of yeast. A small amount of oxygen is important at the start of fermentation. Too high a concentration of oxygen will lead to oxidation of the wine causing a loss of color, flavor and aroma.

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.

Gamaret

A new variety, developed in 1970 at Pully (Vaud), Gamaret is enjoying a growing success with producers and consumers alike. It produces a wine that is richly coloured and well-structured with sometimes-spicy notes that ages well. Gamaret is a cross between Gamay and Reichensteiner (a white grape.)

Rèze

Rèze is an extremely rare white variety found only in Valais. Not often produced as a varietal, Rèze is blended with other Vieux Plants of Valais. Rèze was also used to make the historic “vin des glaciers”, an amber colored wine produced in Val d’Anniviers using the solera technique.

No longer done today, one method in the past was to store Rèze in larch wood barrels, which gave the wine resinous flavor similar to the Greek Retsina, and masking some grape flavor.

Wine is made to be drunk as women are made to be loved; profit by the freshness of youth of the splendor of maturity; do not await decrepitude.

Theophile Malvezin

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