Since I arrived in Switzerland nearly 14 years ago I have had the pleasure of discovering one of life’s most exhilerating combinations – the mix of a healthy, energetic day on the ski slopes with some great bottles of wine the evening after. There can not be many more pleasurable “lifestyle” experiences in the world, particularly in otherwise dark and dreary winter time!
Although I do not have the Swiss natural aptitude for skiing, nor perhaps their typical taste in wines for après ski, I have discovered several highly memorable ski and wine combinations!
Here are some of my favourites:
- Champagne – there is no better way to revive yourself after the physical efforts of the day than with a refreshing glass of Champagne. Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Non Vintage Champagne is my perfect après ski apero!
- A medium sweet German Riesling – I learnt the love of fine German Riesling from my old colleague Max Gerstl during ski weekends when I first arrived in Switzerland. I love the way a slightly sweet, light, elegant, zesty Mosel Riesling revitalises you when you’re body feels a bit tired! Try Schloss Serriger Saarstein Riesling Auslese 2012 at CHF25 reduced from CHF40/bt.
- A Grand Cru Chasselas – yes, Switzerland has rubbed off on me and I have grown to appreciate the finest Chasselas from Lavaux and Dezaley more with every bottle! Whether as an aperitif or served with a traditional fondue, Luc Massy Clos Du Boux Epesses Grand Cru 2016 at CHF22/bt is a fantastic example of this crisp, fresh, gently aromatic wine style.
- A full bodied white Burgundy or New World Chardonnay –when your taste buds crave a richer, more complex white wine to accompany the food, there is nothing I like more than a really good Chardonnay with just the right balance of acidity, fruit and oak. There are so many great examples but my favourite at the moment is Moss Wood Chardonnay 2016 from Margaret River, Western Australia at CHF49/bt
- A perfectly ripe and fruity red Rioja – Rioja is a great red to enjoy early on in the meal as it doesn’t have the firm tannins of Bordeaux or the high alcohol of reds from warmer regions in Spain and Italy. Vina Cubillo Red Rioja Crianza 2009 is fantastic value at CHF19.90 (reduced from CHF24.90/bt), full of juicy, ripe red fruits but with Lopez de Heredia’s classic freshness and structure.
- A perfumed, herb and spice-packed Chateauneuf Du Pape – Southern Rhone reds are full of sunshine and warmth and are great for warming up the body on a cold winter’s evening. La Ferme Du Mont Chateauneuf du Pape 2016 at CHF40/bt is both heart-warming and refreshing, a result of the great 2016 vintage in this area and passionate biodynamic winemaking.
- A big red! As your post-ski dinner reaches its climax it’s time to enjoy a serious Bordeaux, with the body, structure and power to stand up to rich main courses and cheese dishes. Pontet Canet 2012 from Pauillac is not cheap at CHF88/bt but is starting to open up beautifully now. Decant it 2-3 hours before drinking for maximum pleasure.
- A Port – this fabulous fortified wine style is so often overlooked, but there is no better way to finish off a long, energetic day of skiing and wine drinking than by sitting in front of the fire with a mellow, warming, multi-dimensional glass of vintage Port. Taylor’s Vintage Port 2011 at CHF60/half bottle is just beginning to mature and already tastes wonderful!