Swiss Wine Regions

B

Blanc de Blancs

Meaning white from white this is a sparkling wine made from 85% or more of a white-skinned grape variety, usually Chardonnay.

Blanc de Noir

Meaning white from black this is a white or slightly pink sparkling wine made from 85% or more of a dark-skinned grape variety, usually Pinot Noir.

Bland

Wine-tasting term used to describe a wine that lacks any discernible character, though not necessarily having any particular wine faults.

Blend

Mixing of two or more grape varieties, vintages or locations to increase quality, complexity or maintain consistency.

Blind tasting

Tasting and evaluating wine without knowing what it is.

Bodega

A Spanish wine cellar. Also refers to a seller of alcoholic beverage.

Body

A term used to express the weight of a wine. Full-bodied describes a wine (generally one that is higher in alcohol) with fullness of flavor in the mouth.

Botrytis cinerea

Another name for the botrytis cinerea mold that can pierce grape skins causing dehydration. The resulting grapes produce a highly-prized sweet wine, generally dessert wine.

Bottle

A bottle is a small container with a neck that is narrower than the body and a mouth. Modern wine bottles are nearly always made of glass because it is nonporous, strong, and aesthetically pleasing.

Bottle age

Maturation and ageing in bottle imparts mature, mellow characters that increase the complexity, quality and overall harmony of wine.

Bottle fermentation

A method of producing sparkling wine where secondary fermentation occurs in bottles. The wine is then transferred to a pressure tank where it is mixed, filtered, then bottled.

Bottle shock

Also known as bottle-sickness, a temporary condition of wine characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavors. It often occurs immediately after bottling or when wines (usually fragile wines) are shaken in travel. After several days the condition usually disappears.

Bottle variation

The degree to which bottled wine of the same style and vintage can vary.

Bouquet

Describes the complex aromas a wine develops after time spent in the bottle. Generally not applied to young wines.

Box wine

Wine packaged in a bag usually made of flexible plastic and protected by a box, usually made of cardboard. The bag is sealed by a simple plastic tap.

Brandy

A liquor made from distilled wine. It is often the source of additional alcohol in fortified wine.

Brettanomyces

A wine spoilage yeast that produces taints in wine commonly described as barnyard or band-aids.

Bright

Describes a wine that has high clarity and very low levels of suspended solids.

Brilliant

Perfectly clear wine with no suspended particles. Brilliance can be an indicator of wine quality, except in premium red wine, where some crust or sediment can be expected to form after bottle maturation.

Brix

A measure of the sugar concentration in juice or wine.

Brut

Unsweetened or very dry. Brut is sometimes used as a generic term for sparkling wines, usually of dubious quality. Not to be confused with Brut de Brut.

Brut Cremant

A dry sparkling wine that leaves a full, creamy, round mouthfeel.

Brut de Brut

A term used to describe sparkling wine that is fermented to absolute dryness containing no residual sugar.

Bulk fermentation

A method of producing sparkling wine in large stainless steel tanks as opposed to in the bottle. This process offers good quality, consistent wines.

Bung

A stopper used to seal a bottle or barrel. Commonly used term for corks.

Burnt wine

Another name for Brandy, a liquor made from distilled wine. It is often the source of additional alcohol in fortified wines.

Butt

An old English unit of wine casks, equivalent to about 477 litres (126 US gallons/105 imperial gallons).

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.

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

Weisser Burgunder

See: Pinot Blanc

Himbertscha

Himbertscha is one of the rare indigenous white varieties from Haut-Valais, mostly at home in the vineyards of Visperterminen (Upper Valais). The name Himbertscha is said to come from a raspberry (himbeer in German) taste of the wine himbeerartigen. Jose-Marie Chanton who specializes in cultivating the old vines from Wallis makes this wine available under the quality label “Brantignon”. He also cultivates the Himbertscharebe, another “rediscovered” old Walliser white wine.

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

Alcohol, if taken in sufficient quantities, can give one the illusion of drunkenness.

Oscar Wilde

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