Regional Wineries Produce Excellent White and Red Pairings For Diners
I know what you’re thinking.
You’re in a restaurant in Switzerland and are in the mood for a glass of wine with your meal. You’re familiar with the French wines, of course, and the menu also has selections from South Africa. You know South African wines are quite good, and you’ve even likely had them at some time in the past.
At the same time, you also spot Swiss wines on the menu. It’s likely you know nothing about them, and are even less likely to have tried them. That’s because only 10% of wines produced in Switzerland are exported.
The Swiss like to joke that they want to keep this tasty secret to themselves.
Well, I’m here to tell you to go ahead and order the Swiss wine.
You may be surprised to learn that there are several wine-growing regions in Switzerland. The Lake Geneva area has several small wineries stacked next to each other on a hill above lake-side villages. One, Domaine du Daley, dates to the 1300s. There’s even a wine region 20 minutes from Zurich in a town called Winterthur, where you can ride an e-bike to top of a hill in a park (Baumli) to the very edge of the vineyards. Lake Zurich also has a “gold coast” on its right bank with several vineyards.
The Swiss make wines the way they do their watches, delicately and with precision. It’s not the volume that counts but the attention to detail to get it right.
The wines are like the Swiss people themselves: Subtle and understated initially, but rich in quality when you spend a bit of time with them. In the case of the wines, this happens soon after the first sip. The whites are generally light, ideal for appetizers and salads – but can go nicely with a main course – while the reds have more of a full flavor. They are not bold and overpowering, tho, and that really brings out the flavors of the food. Some reds can be so heavy you can’t taste the food. Then again, I prefer lagers to stouts when drinking beer.
Because the wines are all regional, it’s impossible to list the names of all the wineries; what you get in Zurich is different than what you will get in Lausanne, which is different than what you will get in St. Moritz. I can tell you that if you are the Lake Geneva region, select anything from Donaine du Daley; it’s most popular wine by far is the chardonnay-like Le Chasselas and for you red affectionados, the Pinot Noir is outstanding.
Mostly, though, you will have two selections of white – a very light starter for salads or those with a low alcohol tolerance who still enjoy their vino, and a riesling, chardonnay or something similar – and a Pinot Noir and another red.
So when you’re in the mood for wine at a Swiss restaurant, tell your server “I’ll have one of the Swiss wines.” You may not have any other wines until you leave the country.