Switzerland is 4th in the world by annual wine consumption. Swiss are among the most enthusiastic wine consumers globally. Per capita, they drink more wine than people in Austria, Greece, Germany, Australia and the USA. Wine is part of their social, cultural and culinary habits. Wine is as important for the Swiss as bread and water are.
Swiss wine lovers are also some of the biggest spenders on the planet. A British study has found out that the Swiss spend on wine nearly EUR 600 per person per year. In comparison, wine drinkers in Portugal and Spain spend just EUR 127 per person per year. Most of the wine drunk in Switzerland is bought in retail stores. According to a Wine Intelligence report, “supermarkets are still the number one destination for wine purchases”. Specialist wine shops come second. ‘Wine is big business in Switzerland”, the Wine Intelligence’s report says. “Switzerland may be one of Western Europe’s smaller nations but the market offers significant opportunities for wine sales.”
Most of the Swiss wineries are open to the public and sell directly to end-customers. The shops have tasting rooms and convenient working hours. Consumers visiting a Swiss producer, usually remain loyal to it. Swiss wine lovers enjoy the thrill of finding out something trendy or interesting, like orange wines, rare wines or natural wines. “Unknown “nectars” sell better, if the restaurant owner tells the story of its winemaker”, shares a restaurant sommelier in Provins Valais and adds that if there is a lack of interesting story behind a new trend, the Swiss consumer may opt for “the classics” instead. But such is the case with good story telling world-wide. Swiss on-trade experts believe that restaurants are increasingly offering an attractive range of wines from the various wine regions in Switzerland. The fascination with Swiss wines comes from the fact that their quality has increased tremendously over the last couple of years. Now more and more restaurants are favoring wines from indigenous varieties. Native grape varieties on offer have multiplied. The trend toward “regionality” will help Swiss wine market grow further, Euromonitor reckons.
Made in Switzerland
“Consumers want products of Swiss origin”, states Jean-Marc Amez-Droz, the Director of Swiss Wine Promotion, in an interview for Gastrojurnal. In Geneva, for instance, now many restaurants have a larger selection of Geneva wines, which was not the case ten years ago. In promoting local wines, restaurateurs have a key role to play. To help the raising of further awareness of local wines and increase in-depth knowledge about them, the Swiss industry body has launched a free e-learning platform for restaurant professionals. You can only sell more Swiss wines, if you know them thoroughly.
So, if you favour quality and originality, there are three things that need to be done. First, get on the plane (the train, the car or your bike) to Switzerland. Second, remember to say Santé! in the French part of the country, Prost! – in the German part, and Saluti! – in the Italian one. And third, look the person in the eye when clinking glasses.