Business Traveler (USA) - - LIFESTYLES -

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.

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