Swiss Wine Regions

Oeil-de-Perdrix

Oeil-de-Perdix is the flagship wine of Neuchâtel. It is a delicate rose wine made from the Pinot noir grape and it is a Neuchâtel speciality - and has been for centuries. Unfortunately the Canton failed to protect it, and as a result you may see the name "Oeil-de-Perdix" on any rose wine from around the world.

Within Switzerland the Oeil-de-Perdix name may only be used on rose made from Pinot noir, and a good Neuchâtel Oeil-de-Perdix will have the typical Pinot noir bouquet.

As a side note, in 1975 a rose wine was made from the Zinfandel grape at the Sutter Home Winery in California. The wine got "stuck" during fermentation, making a sweet, pink wine, which met with great success and little respect. It has been referred to as the "blue haired ladies" wine.

The maker, Bob Trinchero, had wanted to name it "Oeil de Perdrix", but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) demanded that Trinchero translate the name to avoid confusion for the American public. Since from a marketing point of view "Eye-of-the-Partridge" is fairly meaningless, "White Zinfandel" was born. White evidentially being the least confusing description for a rose.

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The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Freisamer

The Freisamer plays more of a role in Graubünden but has a small presence in a few other cantons. It’s a hybrid of Silvaner x Pinot gris, developed in Freiburg in the Breisgau region. A temperamental grape that puts great demands on the type of soil and location—do I hear you say “terroir”?—it’s been trying to make a name for itself since the sixties but hasn’t really taken off.

Gewürztraminer

The name Gewürztraminer is obviously German, although the origin of the grape is the Tyrollean Alps, near the village of Termeno (Tramin) in Alto Adige, Italy. Gewürz is German for spice. The vine is evidently a pain in the ass to grow and does best in cooler climates. In Germany the wine of this grape is often made off-dry, in Alsace it’s dry and floral, and in Switzerland it produces a wide range. Gewürztraminer is one of the most pungent wine varietals and reasonably easy to identify with just your nose. It is one of the few wine that can hold its own with spicy Asian food.

Muscat Ottonel

Muscat Ottonel is a member of the Muscat family. Used for dry wines in Alsace and Hungary, and dessert wines in Austria and Croatia. In Switzerland it is usually used for light, dry wines. It’s parentage is believed to be the Muscat de Saumur and Chasselas.

Cabernet will rape you and pinot noir seduces you. ... Cabernet will throw you down and rip your clothes off, and pinot noir subtly convinces you to take them off yourself.

Old French 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