Swiss Wine Regions

Swiss Wine: Hidden Treasure

Swiss wine, cow bells and the Swiss AlpsCoveted, praised or abused, wine has been studied, debated, fought over, sung about and worshipped from the loftiest pedestals to the grimiest gutters. Originally I was writing about wine in general, for my personal blog, and since I now live in Switzerland it was inevitable that Swiss wine became a topic. Then one day, looking up a couple details about Swiss wine, it was like finding a cleverly packed, pint-sized treasure box. And that I think sums up the Swiss wine industry nicely.

Switzerland is small. Being covered with mountains, lakes and forests, not to mention people, railroads and banks, doesn't leave much room for wine grapes. Yet crammed in this limited space there are over 100 varieties of grapes used in Swiss wine, and even with a single grape you find a diversity of styles, from subtle, elegant wines suitable for the wittiest conversations, to hearty reds at home at a medieval feast, and succulent, honey tinged Ice wines that rival the best Sauternes.

Starting in ancient history, and there is evidence that grapes were cultivated almost 3000 years ago in Valais, the Swiss wine story is a page-turner. It has elements of mystery, romance, greed, intrigue and, I hope that if I look hard enough: sex…and who hasn't resorted to a bottle of wine in pursuit thereof?

The more I investigated the more I got hooked, and also frustrated. There's lots of general information on wine in books, magazines and the Internet, but very little information to be found specifically about Swiss wine. Luckily there are a couple non-English sites about Swiss wine, some are obvious labors of love, and I am indebted to these sites as they where helpfull in getting me started. More importantly they planted the seed which you see developing on this website.  

With Fine Swiss Wine, I want to create a website where someone interested in Swiss wine, like me, could find what they're looking for (except the sex maybe). This website has some general wine information, but mostly it's about the surprisingly diverse offering of Swiss wine. And since my research should get me looking around the country, I will also feature Swiss wine related sightseeing tours, tips and events. Where these events are "suitable for families" [sic]: I will provide ample warning.

"In a civilized country they drink wine."— Charlie Chaplin

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

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.

Pinot Gris

Called Malvoisie in Valais, this grape has nothing to do with any of the Malvoisie varieties of the Muscat family and is another of the mutations of Pinot Noir. A vine grown in many of the Swiss areas, in Valais, Pinot Gris produces a fine sweet late harvest wine with honey overtones.

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.

Drink wine, and you will sleep well. Sleep well and you will not sin. Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved.

Medieval German 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