How often have you tried Swiss wine? Unless you’re something of a connoisseur, the answer may well be ‘never’. Even if you are, it’s hardly going to be a regular presence in your cellar – unless you’re Swiss yourself, of course. It’s surprising, then, that the country is as much of a wine producer as any of its neighbours, considering its size. Just under 15,000 hectares of vineyards, mostly in the south and south-west of the country, produce over a million hectolitres of wine every year. And only 2% of that ever makes it beyond the border.
Swiss wine, like its language, culture and history, is heavily influenced by the countries which surround it. Most of the wine regions – Lake Geneva, Valais and Vaud, for example – are bordered with France. Ticino sits beside Italy and Schaffhausen, as the name would suggest, isn’t too far from Germany. The wines in each of those regions are, by and large, very similar to the wines of France, Italy and Germany respectively. Schaffhausen’s wines are crisper and more refreshing (usually using the Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer grapes), Geneva, Vaud and Valais use mostly French grapes such as Gamay, Merlot and Pinot Noir, whilst Ticino prides itself on producing red wines similar to those which are so excellently made in the north of Italy.