GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / AMONG THE VINES – One week until Christmas and if you don’t yet have your gifts for family, friends or the company, don’t panic. You’re in luck: 2013 is a great year for offering Swiss gifts centred around food and wine, and if you hurry you can still get gifts delivered on time.
Swiss Wine SelectionHervé Badan of Swiss Wine Selection presenting the cooler and blind tasting sleeve at Domaine du Daley in October
There are scores of gift packs at wineries, a nice way to introduce someone to new Swiss wines, but one of the most attractive offers with bottles from a variety of wineries can be ordered quickly online. Swiss Wine Selection’s gift packs of regional foods from Switzerland matched with very good wines. “Epicurious Big” is CHF159 and “Epicurious Small” is CHF95.
I sampled the products in October and they are very good. The packaging is creative and well-conceived, attractive. This small, young and dynamic company founded by Hervé Badan works with a growing number of good wine producers, helping them market their products.
Another good gift option is “Mystery Red”, a bottle of fine red wine hidden inside a zippered sleeve, re-usable for more blind wine-tasting games later.
Wine course at ChanginsPaolo Basso, World’s Best Sommelier 2013, presenting wines at Changins in November 2013; he teaches courses at Changins University
There are numerous one-evening introductory wine courses of varying quality in the Lake Geneva region, but for your favourite wine-lover who wants to get serious about wine, a four-week course at Changins is just the thing.
This isn’t just a class: it’s school. You pay for the quality and the 16 hours of classroom time, and it’s worth it.
There’s no turning back after this: wine becomes a lifelong pleasure with the added knowledge from the course. Schedule for 2014
Wine books from 2014
Wine Grapes – The biggest and best book around for a serious fan of wine is Wine Grapes, published last year and now out as an e-book. This award-winning guide has three authors: UK wine writers Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding and Swiss botanist and DNA specialist José Vouillamoz. Their tome on 1,368 grape varieties around the world is the definitive guide to the fruit behind the wine. It’s heavy, at 1,200 pages, and you’ll have to wait for it to arrive after Christmas at this point, so you might want to consider the ebook version, half the price at just under £50. I have both and prefer the printed book, which I find easier to use, but the advantages to the portable ebook are obvious.
Les Parfums du Vin – by 35-year-old Swiss oenologist and perfume nose Richard Pfister, is a beautiful new illustrated book in French. It’s attractive, easy to follow and easy to use, even if your French is not strong. Its real strength, however, is Pfister’s exciting new classification system for smelling wines, work that is being praised in the wine world and that grew out of his Changins University thesis that wine could benefit from the same approach to smell as perfumes. He classifies 150 wines, divided into nine families with sub-families. Pfister’s web site, in French.
Das Wein Handbuch – in German, by Chandra Kurt, an easy-to-follow glossary of wine terms, 200 pages, by this Zurich author of several wine books whose annual guide to wine in Swiss stores is very popular in German-speaking Switzerland. Publisher Werd Verlag, CHF39, order online
- Guide des Meilleurs Vins des Supermarchés 2014, in French, by Alexandre Truffer, publisher Creaguide, CHF19
- Guide des Buvettes et Auberges d’Alpage, in French, published by Terre & Nature, CHF30
- Guide des vins en biodynamie, in France and Switzerland, book in French, with the Swiss section written by Alexandre Truffer, publisher Feret, euros 19.80
- Murs de Pierres, Murs de Vignes, in French, came out at the end of 2012, the latest in the beautiful series of well-researched and illustrated books published by the Musée Valaisan de la Vigne et du Vin, CHF35. The story of the amazing dry stone walls that have, for centuries, allowed wine producers to grow on the steep slopes of the Swiss Alps.
Wine and dine nights
A top Geneva restaurant turned private, one of my favourite wineries and a favourite restaurant both regularly offer gourmet evenings matched with wine. Offer someone a memorable night out.Jérôme Aké Béda with me (Ellen Wallace) during one of the lively wine and food pairing evenings at Auberge de l’Onde, St Saphorin
La Colombière was long one of Geneva’s most famous restaurants before the owners turned it into a top private restaurant and cooking school.
The programme for 2013’s special dinners hasn’t been set yet, but you’ll find examples of past dinners, usually sold out. CHF250 for a gourmet meal and the wines specially paired with the foods.
Wine producer Reynald Parmelin regularly offers wine and food pairing fine cuisine dinners at his winery, Le Capitaine, in Begnins. Parmelin has several times won the title of Best Swiss Organic Wine Producer. The meals, limited to 30 guests, typically cost about CHF180 for the food and wine. The 2013 schedule is not yet out, but here’s a sample past dinner.
Auberge l’Onde in St Saphorin, near Vevey, has had a spectacular series of Soirées Vignerons lead by the restaurant’s sommelier and maitre d’, Jérôme Aké Beda, who now has a promising new series of evenings lined up, Learn & Dine, mini-food and wine pairing courses that last an evening, with Jérôme as poet-sommelier-teacher along with Richard Pfister, master perfumer and oenologist (see review of his book, Les Parfums du Vin, above). Offered two Wednesdays a month, CHF220 for the course, dinner, wines.
Beautiful dining, signature Schilliger
Everything you need for a spectacular dining room at home and you won’t lack for inspiration once you see the splendid holiday tables set at Schilliger’s Garden Centre in Gland, where a pre-Christmas visit will put anyone in the mood to shop. Note special holiday shopping hours.
Terroir food baskets
Canton Valais, Terroir Valaisan gift food baskets from CHF30 to 150, last orders for the holidays must be in by 19 December.
Canton Vaud, Terre-Vaudoise gift food baskets from CHF30 to 150, at the shops in Lausanne and Pully or order online.
Canton Geneva, Espace-Terroir has a fine basket of food, wine and beer, CHF99 and a Coffret Gourmand with an elegant dessert wine, artisanal chocolates and cake for CHF79.
Your favourite wine-lover could use all of the following accessories, which you’ll find at the Cidis (Vaud wine cooperative) shop in Tolochenaz near Morges: drop-stop for pouring wine neatly, cooling sleeve, wine saver. A good carafe is always welcome. This award-winning winery has gift boxes and an excellent collection of wine.
The Cave de Genève has a good collection of gift wine packages that can be ordered online. The winery, one of the canton’s best, regroups a number of small producers, and there is a good range of prices.
Suggestion: browse our “resources” page on Events.GenevaLunch.com for more ideas