Are you a wine-lover? Did you know Geneva is Switzerland’s third wine-producing canton (with over 1400 hectares)? We’re not just talking Chasselas (white) or Gamay (red), but winegrowers have also had great successes with grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The 30th annual Caves Ouvertes (Wineries Open Day) on Saturday 20th of May 2017 (from 10am-5pm) is the perfect chance to discover wines from local vineyards and meet the wine producers in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Even if you’re not that much into wine, the event is a great way to explore the countryside and spend quality time with friends or family (and if you’re new to wine-tasting – read our tips for how to make the best of the experience and how to avoid looking like a dork!).
A good Vintage
The Caves Ouvertes has become an unmissable date in the canton’s calendar and draws thousands of people every year, for many of whom it is their first contact with Swiss wine. This year as many as 90 wineries will be opening their doors to present their 2016 wines, shaping up to be a highly promising vintage, along with the cask-matured wines of the 2015 vintage. Some of the bigger wineries, such as Chateau du Crest, will also be offering visitors a bite to eat and activities for children.
(Do remember, though, visitors are guests on private property and wine producers are hosts, not bartenders)
Geneva has three specific wine-producing regions: Traditionally, the Mandement is the most often visited area, but wine-lovers increasingly visit the “Entre Arve et Rhône” (Lully, Bernex, Soral, etc.) and “Arve et Lac” (Jussy, Anières, Gy, etc.) regions. The event is an ideal opportunity for a stroll through the countryside and to discover the charming villages of these three regions.
To make it easy for visitors to get to and from the wineries, TPG will provide free shuttle busses to and from Geneva (one on the left bank from Vésenaz and two on the right bank to Mandement – Russin, Satigny and La Plaine. There will also be buses between villages and CFF Swiss Railways (on the Geneva-La Plaine line) with scheduled extra trains for the event. Bicycles are not recommended for travelling between villages on the day.
Don’t wear too much perfume – strong fragrances will disturb your ability to get a clear sense of the wine’s aromas.
Take notes – maybe rating wines out of 10 because after several glasses your memory might be a bit hazy. Rate the wines on appearance, smell, taste and overall conclusion.
Try new wines – don’t stick to your old favourites – the whole point is to discover new wines.
Don’t be a know-it-all. No matter how much of an expert you think you are, you’ll most certainly annoy your host, not to mention the other guests. Do ask questions though. This is why the host is there.
If you plan to taste a lot of wine on the day, it’s fine to spit or dump the wine, even if it’s a really good wine. Spit as if you mean it – with a bit of force – to avoid dribbling!
Swallowing is obviously fine too. Go ahead and have fun, but do pace yourself. Getting drunk and disrupting the experience for other visitors is not what wine tasting is about.
Don’t knock it back – look first, inspect the wine visually to observe colour, clarity.
Swirl – when you swirl, the more droplets of wine that cling to the inside of the glass the higher the alcohol content. Take this opportunity to have a quick sniff of your wine to form a first impression.
Smell – bring the glass up to your nose and take in the aroma.
Sip – finally taste the wine. Sip, don’t gulp, and let it roll around your mouth.
Don’t treat the host like a bartender with demands to fill up your glass. Behave the way you’d behave when visiting someone in their home.