Swiss Wine Regions

Wine Appreciation

A mixture of information and philosophy

Oepfelchammer in Zürich

Oepfelchammer ZurichA hangout for artists and intelligentsia; wine, wisdom, and song has flowed in the ancient oak-paneled Oepfelchammer on the Rindermarkt in Zürich for two hundred years. Nicknamed the “Oeli”, it’s the oldest unchanged wine tavern (Weinstube) in Zürich. Read more »

Terroir, and Music on my Tongue

Grapevines on Hill near Zurich, SwitzerlandWine is like jazz, it can have finesse, variety, nuance, and surprise. terroir is one the players in the band. What is terroir , and should we care? The answer is yes, no, and it's a matter of opinion. Many opinions. Just like jazz.

First we need to agree what terroir is. I say agree - and not define, because terroir is one of those concepts that's hard to nail down because it can have an almost philosophical quality. The word terroir is French for soil. Simple enough, but the concept "terroir " in the context of wine encompasses numerous factors that influence the taste of wine. Read more »

Academie du Vin Introductory Wine Course

Swiss white wine and scenes of Switzerland

An introductory wine course is being offered by the Académie du Vin, in cooperation with COOP - the largest wine retailer in Switzerland. The Académie is an independent Swiss organization that is affiliated with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), and provides a series of their own courses, as well as the full WSET certification program.

Although not a requirement for starting out on the certification process, this course is a good starting off point, and equally interesting for those of us wanting to improve our wine knowledge, or for the absolute beginner to get a bit of the mystery around wine removed. At present these courses are only offered in the regional language, i.e. German in Zurich. 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.

Vieux Muscat du Pays

A very old small berry Valais grape, difficult to cultivate. It is an aromatic specialty limited almost exclusively to Valais. Some clone or mutation of the Muscat is grown on almost every continent.

Humagne Blanche

Only planted in Valais today, Humagne blanche* is another of the very old Swiss grapes, probably brought in by the Romans. Having a high iron content, and supposedly health-giving properties, this wine was decreed a “health wine” (Krankenwein) for centuries. The old written documents in which this wine is referred to as vinum hum-anum date from the 12th and 14th Centuries. It’s also called Kinderbettenwein or baby crib wine. I’ll bet those kids didn’t have much to cry about.

*no relation to the Humagne Rouge

Alcohol, if taken in sufficient quantities, can give one the illusion of drunkenness.

Oscar Wilde

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