Drinking wine outdoors is a special experience, particularly in a garden where you can wander freely. For once, the relaxed atmosphere takes precedence over the normally serious business of wine tasting.
My unconditional love of Swiss wines I've been drinking them for decades, and the more I try them, the more I realise that our country has a magnificent winegrowing tradition, of which Chasselas is of course a part.
Let's be clear from the start: there is no way to tell the difference between organic and "normal" wines from the taste. Although organic wines only make up a small percentage of overall production, they are getting better than ever and are now widely recognised by consumers.
Often overshadowed by red and white wines, rosé wines deserve a better reputation. Chandra Kurt has just tasted around 100 of them, in her efforts to understand current Swiss production.
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.
The main obstacle to a harmonious pairing of dishes and wines is purely a question of numbers: there are countless possibilities for combination. Which explains why there are also many exceptions to the rule. Nevertheless, I will give you a few basic principles, which have helped me a lot in my wine tasting career to date.
Like the wine itself, glasses have a distinct influence on taste. The perfect glass will not improve a bad wine, but it could give you the optical illusion of drinking a better one. On the other hand, any glass will perfectly highlight the qualities of a good wine.
This is a tale of two countries, the story of a winner and a loser. Austria is the winner. Switzerland is the loser. Except for that little detail, they have much in common.
Both are small, landlocked nations in the middle of Europe with some spectacular vineyard sites that can produce some wonderful wines. Both make just tiny amounts of their best wines. Both are dwarfs on the international fine-wine battlefield ruled by titans such as Bordeaux and California.
Today, even the uninitiated know that sparkling, white and rosé wines should be served chilled and red wines at room temperature. But beyond this simple, even simplistic rule, it's helpful to make a few distinctions based on the category of vintage.