Swiss Wine Regions

Glossary of S

Sack

An early English term for what is now called Sherry.

Salmanazar

A large bottle holding nine litres, the equivalent of 12 regular wine bottles.

Sangria

A tart punch made from red wine along with orange, lemon and apricot juice with added sugar.

Schiller wine

Schiller wine is a Rotling made by mixing white and red grapes in the must. The grapes have to be harvested from the same parcel in the vineyard and must meet the minimum QbA (Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete) of the specified region to be marketed as a Schiller wine. Because of the color Shiller wine is often called a rosé, but that’s not strictly correct. A Rosé is made exclusivly with red wine grapes.

Shiller wine produced in Graubünden tends to have higher proportions of red wine grape, while in Valais it’s reversed with white grapes, usually Fendant (Chasselas), having a higher percentage. Shiller wine is also made in St. Gallen.

Scion

Grape variety grafted to the rootstock.

Screwcap

An alternative to cork for sealing wine bottles, comprising a metal cap that screws onto threads on the neck of a bottle. Also called a stelvin.

Sec

French for dry, except in the case of Champagne, where it means semi-sweet.

Sekt
Semi-generic

Wines made in the United States but named after places that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau requires be modified by a US name of geographic origin. Examples would be New York Chablis, Napa Valley Burgundy or California Champagne.

Sharp

Acid taste on the palate. Not necessarily unpleasant smoky flavour and aromatic complexity. Usually a by-product of fired (toasted) oak barrels.

Sherry

A fortified wine that has been subjected to controlled oxidation to produce a distinctive flavor.

Skin

Essential part of red wine making as it contains pigments, flavonoids and tannins.

Skin contact

Continual and deliberate contact of the skins with the juice during the winemaking.

Soft

Describes a wine with a mild tannin or acid sensation with no harshness on the palate or in the aftertaste.

Solera system

A system of fractional blending used in the production of fortified wine. Usually, a stack of barrels will have the youngest wines at the top and the oldest at the bottom. Wine is removed from the bottom barrels for bottling and topped up from the row above. In this way, a consistent wine can be produced over many years. This process is used for Sherry.

Sommelier

A trained wine expert that often works in fine restaurants.

Sorbic acid

Used to kill yeasts and moulds but can produce the undesirable odour of crushed geranium.

Sparkling wine

Effervescent wine containing significant levels of carbon dioxide.

Spätlese

German for late harvest wine.

Spinning cone column

Machine used to reduce the amount of alcohol in a wine.

Split

A wine bottle that holds approximately 6 oz (175-187 mL) or one-fourth the equivalent of a typical 750 mL bottle; a single-serving.

Spumante

Italian for sparkling. Generally any sparkling wine from Italy, although producers of Franciacorta have stated that Franciacorta is not a spumante.

Stabilisation

Processes used to stop the wine from deteriorating.

Stelvin

A brand of screwcap.

Still wine

Wine that is not sparkling wine.

Stoving wine

A production method of artificially mellowing wine by exposing it to heat.

Sulfites

Compounds (typically: potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite) which are added to wine to prevent oxidation and microbial spoilage.

Sulphur dioxide (SO2)

Used since Roman times to preserve, disinfect and reduce oxidation in wines. It is referred to on food and wine labels as Preservative (220) added.

Sweet

More than fruity; pertaining to the sugar level in finished wine.

Sweetness of wine

Defined by the level of residual sugar in the final liquid after the fermentation has ceased. However, how sweet the wine will actually taste is also controlled by factors such as the acidity and alcohol levels, the amount of tannin present, and whether the wine is sparkling.

Syndicat des Vins de Bordeaux et Bordeaux Superieur

An organisation representing the economic interests of wine producers in Bordeaux.

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

Gouais Blanc

A promiscuous grape. Not good for much, but with a long, long line of descendents, including the noble Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Possibly from Croatia, it’s called Heunisch Weiss in Central Europe.

The name Gouais is comes from ‘gou’, which is a scornful word from old French referring to its standing as the grape of the peasants. Very prevalent in the Ile-de-France and in the Champagne during the Middle Ages and perhaps brought into Valais by the descendants of the Ligurians.

Acidic and with little residual sugar, it’s primarily used to blend with low acidic wine to give it a bit of liveliness. Ampelographic studies in the old vineyards of Oberwallis have found a red Gwäss with the same characteristics as the white Gwäss. Almost abandoned, it survives in Haut-Valais hiding under the alias of Gwäss, thanks to Mr. Josef-Marie Chanton, http://www.chanton.ch/home.html

Amigne

Amigne was brought to Switzerland by the Romans. This grape can also produce a Sauternes-like late harvest wine. These wines are ready to drink in two to three years, but some can be aged.

Lafnetscha

Here’s an obscure language lesson. The name Lafnetscha is derived from the local dialect. Because the grape is harvested early, it makes for a acerbic wine which should not be drunk too young. In the local dialect, the verb to drink is “gelafft”, so laff-nit-scha is drink-not-already (sort of). As to the grape, it is one of the oldest in from Haut-Valais. Almost identical to the Blachier. Please see Completer for more information.

A remedy for the moroseness of old age.

Plato

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