08 March 2013

Merci BeauCoop!

Just a quick note to all my brother and sister wine-loving cheapskates: get thee to Neuchâtel tout de suite for a tasting of some 300 wines from around the world. For free. In style.

 As anyone living in Switzerland knows, Coop is one of the two huge grocery store chains here, and always has a generous amount of floor space devoted to wines from around the world. The other grocery giant, Migros, doesn’t even carry wine or any alcohol on its shelves, thanks to its late teetotalling founder, Gottlieb Duttweiler, the poor benighted soul.

Right now until Sunday night, in my town, Neuchâtel, Coop is presenting its 9th annual Foire aux Vins, Rois du vin. Anyone with a Coop card (we’ve all got one, right?) can board one of the boats in the harbor at no charge to sample wines from almost every continent except Atlantis.

You get dizzy just thinking about it, right? Well, wait until you’ve tried a few of these heady wines.

In one hour, strolling the covered decks of two of the handsome ferryboats that crisscross Lac Neuchâtel during summer, I stopped at wine stands set up by region, and tasted about 15 wines from Switzerland, California, Spain, Portugal and France. Four stands are devoted just to France, five to Italy. The pourers are charming. The gentleman with curly waxed moustaches wouldn’t tell me which Bordeaux he was pouring until after I tasted each one. He waited until I made a few comments before he showed me the bottle.

Then I sat down to a tasting event of six wines paired with amuses bouche. Our bouches were amused (somewhat) by chunks of fish with guacamole; garlic buffalo mozzarella dabbed with raspberry jam; pork pieces in a ginger-honey sauce; foccacia spread with minced olives, mushrooms, tomato, arugula and cheese; and a desert of jellied grapefruit with crispy crêpe flakes. The wines were from Switzerland (including Neuchâtel, of course), California, France and Italy. This is not free, and reservations are required

Everyone seemed happy to be there.

 All wines are for sale by order at discounted prices. For your own good, you can’t take any home with you that night. Even though, you, smart person that you are, won’t drive, but take the train.

And if you can’t get to Neuchâtel by Sunday night, the party moves across the lake to Estavayer-le-lac on Monday and Tuesday evening, and then to Crissier outside of Lausanne. Did I mention it’s free with your Coop card?

If you go, I think you might join me in saying merci beauCoop!


  1. And no wine from West Virginia? ;) I may be on the continent next year and would love to attend. What fun!

    I'm wondering though, after tasting the first half dozen or so, are you still really distinguishing one from the other?

  2. My Dearest Miss Footloose (GT?),
    There may well have been a wine or two from West Virginia, possibly even East Virginia, but, as you suggest, I had the age-old problem of too many wines, too little time (and diminishing sobriety), to check them all.

    I'd love to taste a few with you if you find yourself in Neuchâtel.