Swiss Wine Regions


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


A measure of the sugar concentration in juice or wine.


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.


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.


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



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).


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

Humagne Blanche

Only planted in Valais today, Humagne blanche* is another of the very old Swiss grapes, probably brought in by the Romans. Having a high iron content, and supposedly health-giving properties, this wine was decreed a “health wine” (Krankenwein) for centuries. The old written documents in which this wine is referred to as vinum hum-anum date from the 12th and 14th Centuries. It’s also called Kinderbettenwein or baby crib wine. I’ll bet those kids didn’t have much to cry about.

*no relation to the Humagne Rouge

Weisser Burgunder

See: Pinot Blanc


A vigorous and adaptable vine from Burgundy, Chardonnay grows pretty much everywhere that wine is made. Although production is not so high in Switzerland, award-winning wines have come out of Geneva, Valais and Neuchâtel.

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