Buying wine from producers

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Chandra's Cooking with Wine

You can buy wine from a supermarket, in a specialist shop or directly from the winegrower. Tasting wines directly on the estate is the ideal way to learn about production and make comparisons.

If you've never visit a winegrowing estate, the time has come to take the plunge. For me, visiting vineyards is part of my routine, but it's a routine which I enjoy more and more each time. In fact, it gives me the chance to meet great wine specialists and ask them all the questions that spring to mind. Most Swiss estates sell wine directly. Some of them are open every day, some are only open on Saturdays, while others can only be visited by appointment. In any case, it's always worth phoning ahead, even if it's just to get brief directions on how to get there.

Just recently, I visited a winegrowing estate in the canton of Zurich, Staatskellerei in Rheinau. The vaulted cellars of this former monastery alone make it worth the detour! And of course the new tasting room. The wines are of a high standard, with a palette of vintages from the down-to-earth Riesling x Sylvaner to more prestigious vintages such as Gamaret, as complex a wine as you'll find anywhere.

The example of Rheinau

On this occasion, I was fascinated by a new vintage based on a grape variety called Solaris. It resembles a Sauvignon blanc in the nose and a German Riesling on the palate. With impressive vitality and freshness! When I tasted it, I felt that this vintage would go perfectly with Asian specialities. I hope to test whether this intuition was right in the near future.

In my experience winegrowers are happy to discuss their vintages, enjoy answering questions and are happy for people to make suggestions. Beyond the wine itself, questions can be about which dishes they go well with, even though it's always better to try things out for yourself. Personally, I always order six bottles of each wine because I'd rather have a few of each type rather than a large number of bottles from a single vintage. Or you can order tasting boxes containing two or three bottles of each type.

You can get the addresses of winegrowers in different ways, for example by phoning the tourist offices or looking online. Most regions also publish helpful guides with practical information. Finally, you can ask your wineseller if it's possible to visit their suppliers.

Combine visits with haute cuisine!

Wine and cuisine are inextricably linked, so why not try combining a visit to a winegrower with a stop for food in typical restaurants in the region, where you can taste regional specialities to go with local wines. If you don't find anything in your guide book, do ask advice from the winegrowers, who are generally more than happy to share tips on great local spots.