Swiss Wine Regions

Wine Making

Terroir

French for soil, the physical and geographical characteristics of a particular vineyard site that give the resultant wine its unique properties.

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Thief

A tubular instrument for removing a sample from a cask or barrel. Also called a pipe.

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Toast

The charcoal that is burned into the inside of wine casks. To toast refers to that process. It also refers to the practice of drinking an alcohol beverage along with wishing good health or other good fortune.

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Triage

The sorting of the grapes.

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The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

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.

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.

Fendant

Fendant is a protected designation and may only be used in Valais for wines made from the Chasselas grape. In contrast to its native France, where it wasn’t too successful as a wine grape, the Chasselas shines in Switzerland.

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