If you love Swiss wines and are living in or near Switzerland (or even planning a visit in the next ten days), there’s a treat in store. From the 20th to the 30th of November, it’s Swiss Wine Week. Which means what, exactly? It’s a joint initiative by Swiss Wine Promotion (whose new logo is featured left) and Sierre-based Swiss wine event organisers Vinea. The aim is to shake Swiss restaurant-goers and winemakers out of their usual – dare I say boring? – habits and cajole them into tasting wines from some part of Switzerland other than their own.
If you know this tiny country well, you’ll be aware that when eating out in – for example – the Valais, top of any wine list will be sundry Fendants, Doles, Pinot Noirs and Syrahs from that rugged, sunbaked, mountainous region. In neighbouring Canton Vaud, you’ll be offered Chasselas from some of those stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site vineyards above Lake Geneva – Saint-Saphorin, Dézaley, Epesses, Aigle & Company.
Further north in the Bündner Herrschaft villages of Graubünden, lucky diners can count on an impressive array of local Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays (or even a Completer). Down in the Italian-speaking part it’ll be an expressive Merlot del Ticino from the vineyard visible from the window of the Osteria. And so on – you get the picture.
The Swiss are faithful to their own regions and to their local wines. Nothing wrong with that (France, where I live, is the same, or worse – if you count this a sin). But it’s also fun to branch out occasionally, take a look at what others are doing, either with the same grapes or with quite different ones.
This is where Swiss Wine Week comes in. For the next ten days, around 200 participating restaurants up and down the country are offering their customers either a three-course menu where each course is paired with a different, non-local wine; or simply a suggested match for three of their à la carte dishes, each with a wine from another Swiss region.
Below are some of the wines tasted today at the Restaurant Loetschberg in Bern, which they will be featuring during Swiss Wine Week (okay, it’s ten days, but that just gives you more time to try them out.) And check out the list of participating restaurants, some of whom have outlined the menus, dishes and wines they will be serving. For those living in or near Basel, these include the Schlüsselzunft, Bon Vivant and the admirable Hotel Krafft, and there are plenty more.
Have fun, make some discoveries – and be sure to share your findings with us.