Swiss Wine Regions

Wine Making

Chai

A wine shed, or other storage place above ground, used for storing casks, common in Bordeaux. Usually different types of wine are kept in separate sheds.

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Chaptalization

A winemaking process where sugar is added to the must to increase the alcohol content in the fermented wine. This is often done when grapes have not ripened adequately.

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Bung

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

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Butt

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

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The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Chénin blanc

The versatile “Pinot de la Loire” produces some fine wine in Valais. Like the Chasselas, it provides a neutral canvas for the winemaker’s art and terroir. Originating in the Loire valley of France, it has no relation or similarity to Pinot blanc.

Sémillon

Hard to believe that Sémillon’s main claim to fame is its propensity to rot, but because of its soft skin Sémillon is prone to Botrytis cinerea (a.k.a. “noble rot”). The “rot” concentrates the acid and sugar in the grape, and the resulting wine can be complex, rich, sweet, and aromatic. In short: pretty damn nice. The best known of this sweet style wine is Sauternes, coming from the Sauternais region of the Graves, near Bordeaux in France.

Sémillon can also make an elegant dry white wine, but since it can be short on acidity, it is often vinified with Sauvignon blanc.

Sylvaner

Originally from the Danube basin, Sylvaner is widely planted in well-exposed locations in Valais where it ripens later than Chasselas, producing wines with good body, bouquet and acidity. It is also used, although rarely, for late harvest wine.

Water for oxen, wine for kings.

Spanish Proverb

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