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Swiss wine – there’s more to the place than chocolate

25 Jan

White wine bottleSwitzerland is not a country the British associate with wine-making. Just about every other country has penetrated the UK market – some more than others – but Swiss wine is almost impossible to find, even direct from importers. Whilst their alpine neighbours Austria are an acknowledged producer (80’s anti-freeze scandals aside), the Swiss seem determined to keep their wine to themselves.

This is a crying shame as they know how to make a fantastic bottle.

With family in Switzerland I’ve had the happy opportunity to sample the local stuff on several occasions, and it’s left me with a long-standing love of the crisp, slightly metallic and enormously refreshing taste.

The vineyards are generally small and the wine doesn’t travel far, even within Switzerland. We have often stayed near Geneva, and the wine in the supermarkets is all sourced from within a few tens of miles (including the obligatory French stuff – France is only a few miles away as the crow flies of course). My favourite is from the Celigny region – it’s light and all too easy to over-consume. The commonly heard phrase at Gastronome Towers is “Go on, just a splash.” This is repeated several times until drunk and was first coined in Geneva after too much of the aforementionned vintage.

The closest thing that is easily available in the UK is wine made from the Gruner Veltliner grape. You can find both Austrian and Hungarian bottles from online wine stores (as well as increasingly often in restaurant wine lists).

However, none of this comes cheap (at least £6 per bottle) and you have to ask yourself if it’s good value compared to other gluggable wines available in the UK.

I suppose that in the end I have an emotional attachment to Swiss wine and that makes it occasionally worth the extra investment. I urge you to give it a try though. It’s worth tracking down.