Swiss Wine Regions

Swiss Wine

Observations about Swiss wine and grapes, and the history of wine-making in Switzerland

Wine is good for you

Wine has long been valued for its medicinal benefits - it figures in almost all the remedies recorded by Hippocrates, from a general antiseptic to cooling fevers. The grape has been part of the triumvirate of good throughout the middle ages, and the triumvirate are those benevolent institutions: the church, hospitals, and vineyards. Read more »

No, it’s not just Chardonnay

Wine bottles and Swiss Alps photo montageThe Swiss are eclectic, life is comfortable in Switzerland, and the Swiss have been quietly gathering the best of what's around them: you see it in the food, fashion, and lifestyle, and the collection area isn't limited to the immediate neighbors of Austria, Germany, Italy and France. The Swiss are a far traveling nation.

This Swiss eclectic nature extends to their taste in wine, in which they indulge extensively; consistently in the upper percentile of per capita wine consumption. So extensively in fact, that very little Swiss wine gets exported. Surprising when you consider that many Swiss aren't even aware that wine is produced in Switzerland at all. Read more »

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. Read more »

Digging for Grapes

Recent excavations by the University in Basel, in sediment from Lake du Mont d'Orge, has provided evidence (increases in pollen concentrations), that grapes were cultivated in Valais, Switzerland, almost 3000 years ago.

Thanks to current efforts on the part of some of the vinyards in Valais, you can now find wine made with some of the first grapes ever cultivated, grapes found nowhere else. Read more »

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.

Chasselas

In contrast to its native France where it wasn’t too successful as a wine grape, the Chasselas shines in Switzerland. Basically neutral in character, it reflects the nuances of the terroirs where it’s grown. Chasselas may be one of the first grape varieties ever cultivated and is one of, if not the dominant wine grapes grown in Switzerland.

Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains

The Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, is one of the oldest grape varieties still around. It’s linked to the Anathelicon moschaton grape used by the Ancient Greeks, and the Apiane grapevines of the Romans. A white grape, it’s a member of the Muscat family. The name comes from its small berry and tight clusters. it’s called Muscat Canelli in Valais, but also goes under lots of names: Muscat Blanc, Moscato Bianco, Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat de Lunel, Muscat d'Alsace, Muskateller, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Moscatel Rosé and Sárgamuskotály. Theoretically a white grape, the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains can also produce berries that are pink or reddish brown.

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