WINES FROM SWITZERLAND?
A few years ago I went skiing in Switzerland and discovered many lovely wines gracing the tables in small towns and in high mountaintop restaurants. These wines weren’t necessarily world class stunners – but instead these relatively low alcohol wines
If you’ve never heard of Swiss wines, there are some good reasons for that; mostly because that’s the way the Swiss want it. About 98 percent of Swiss wines are consumed in Switzerland itself and until recently none left the country. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek it out here in the States or better yet, in Switzerland.
One immediately surprising aspect to Swiss wine production is that it isn’t all light, Germanic styled high altitude white wines. In fact, over half (58 percent) of the wines are red. Switzerland’s vineyards tend to be small, family run operations with growers trying to maximize the spring and summer sunshine.
Most of Switzerland’s grapes come from the canton of Valais followed by Vaud, Geneva and Ticino. Regarded as a table grape in much of Europe, Chasselas is the number one grape grown in Switzerland. Curiously, it’s a white grape with low acidity making it fruitier than many other white grapes from the region, plus easier to digest. Other popular grape varieties include: Petite Arvine, Humagne, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, Marsanne, Amigne and Gamay.
In the German, northeastern part of the country, Pinot Noir and Riesling varieties reign. In the small southern Swiss-Italian region of Ticino, local winemakers produce Merlot del Ticino, a light Merlot. Cornalin is another red Swiss grape that used to be strictly a blender but now has graduated to a stand alone varietal. Tough to produce yet fruity and light, Cornalin is getting noticed. And don’t miss some of Switzerland’s tasty rosé wines, with some bearing the name of “Oeil-de-Perdrix” or “eye of the partridge;” named for its pale pink hue.
things in Switzerland, are expensive.