There are over 40 varieties of indigenous grapes that grow in Switzerland. Despite several previous visits to Switzerland, we had no idea about Swiss wine until our recent visit to Zermatt. It was the wonderful Fabiene of Zermatt Tourimus that told us Valais, the region where Zermatt is situated, is Switzerland’s largest growing wine region and produces nearly half of the country’s wine.
So why then is Swiss wine virtually unknown outside of Switzerland and even harder to find? It’s simple really. Production is very small and producers sell their Swiss wine to restaurants and private clients. Only about 1% of Swiss wine ever makes it to the European market.
Pinot Noir is king here in Valais as the most widely planted grape. It was introduced to the region in the mid-nineteenth century as a way to regenerate Switzerland’s wine industry. Pinot Noir has become one of the best red wines in Valais.
Pinot Noir wine is among the most popular in the world and Vanity Fair once said of it:
“The most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.”
So it’s no wonder we were excited to try Swiss Pinot Noir! We found it on the wine list at Restaurant Stradel and since it pairs well with red meats, was a perfect accompaniment to the Fondue Chinoise we were sharing. It is smooth, fresh, and soft on the palette with scents of black cherries, raspberries, and other berries.
We were even more excited to find a bottle at the butcher shop along Zermatt’s Main Street to bring home. We bought a Caves du Paradis Sierre Pinot Nois AOC Valais 2011 for around 16 CHF. It’s ideal serving temperature is 14°C and pairs well with red meat, lamb, and soft cheese.
Swiss wine is relatively expensive in comparison to wines from Italy or even other parts of Europe. But not totally impossible to find. If you come across a bottle, we highly recommend you give it a try. Or better yet, take a wine safari to Switzerland!
And if you just can’t make it to Switzerland anytime soon, but we’ve convinced you that you simply must try Pinot Noir, it is available on these specialty websites: