Short story: The Expovina wine boats feature thousands of wines and often intimidating crowds. Visit the right boats to avoid queues and find the friendliest wine styles. The “best” styles depend on where you come from. Jump to the recommended boats and stands, plus an easy map:
Those excellent Zurich Expovina wine boats return on November 1, 2018 for their usual 2 week bob in Bürkliplatz harbor.
The 12 vessels holding 170 stands pouring 4,000 wines make up Switzerland’s largest annual wine expo.
First you can follow our tips to enter for free. Or take the lazy route and simply pay CHF 25 at the door. Either way the easy entry for “unlimited” wine tastes may actually sound a bit toooo promising.
Yes well, in fact: it’s too good to be true. A mega-popular event.
On the busiest evenings you may struggle to taste much at all.
First know the best times to attend. Then you’ll find some oxygen to inhale and free space to lift your arms. Now with your basic physical problems solved, you have a new mental challenge:
What to put in your glass? Gack! Too many options.
If you’re not already a wine guru, you likely have no idea. It’s a crap shoot, totally random.
You need a plan!
First here’s what NOT to do… and then exactly where to go to maximize your odds of finding great wines!
What most people do (or, what not to do)
The “random wander”
Why not just wander in towards the first warm onboard lights you see? Specifically the two wine boats in front of your face as you enter: Panta Rhei and Linth.
In fact the left-side Panta Rhei is the fondue boat! Yes, “Panta Rhei” is actually ancient Greek for “smells funky”. The thick aroma smacks you upside the head and you’ll scurry through to the next boat, the Limmat.
Because most people do exactly that, Limmat and Linth feature the biggest wine tasting queues. So maybe you push on to the next boat with shorter or no queues. Is that good or bad? Did you already accidentally miss the “best” stands? That’s where the crowds were, uh, right?
Maybe you’ll get lucky and discover some new Expovina wine which you love. But just as likely not.
5 minutes in and you’re already lost.
Know your Expovina wine style!
Most visitors misunderstand from the start. There’s really no such thing as “good wines” and “bad wines”. Vendors bring only well-made wines. Bad and good are relative to you. But it’s NOT totally personal: there are without doubt both “crowd friendly” and “fussy” wine styles.
Imagine vegetables. Nearly everyone loves potatoes (roasted, fried, chips, etc.). Tomatoes however split opinion: some love, some hate, or depends on texture. Brussels sprouts earn only a tiny but devoted following. So there you go: wine snobs love Brussels sprouts. Tomatoes are a gamble: your colleague may love while you hate. You want your Expovina wine to be fried potatoes.
There’s the trick — among 170 vendors, how do you find the friendliest wines?
If you come from continental Europe…
You’ll most likely enjoy wines from hot, sunny European wine regions. Think Mediterranean and look for:
- South of France – keywords to look for: Languedoc and/or Roussillon, Pays d’Oc or “southwest”
- South of Italy – keywords: Sicily, Puglia, Salento, Sardinia
- Spain (see below)
Your best Expovina wine boats: SATURN and STADT RAPPERSWIL (map below)
- Saturn main deck – visit Rutishauser Barossa for southern Italy
- Saturn main deck – visit Casa del Vino for Spain
- Saturn main deck – bonus KapWeine for South Africa (see below)
- Stadt Rapperswil main deck – visit Bindella Vinoteca for southern Italy, Spain, plus Chile
- Stadt Rapperswil main deck – visit Dovinasol for Spain
If you come from outside of continental Europe…
Your hot and sunny regions are typically hotter and sunnier than Europe. If you hail from North or South America, UK or a British Commonwealth country, you will most likely enjoy wines from those regions:
- South Africa
- Spain (see below)
Your best Expovina wine boat: HELVETIA (map below)
- Helvetia main deck – visit Rutishauser Barossa for USA, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, plus Spain
- Helvetia main deck – bonus Zweifel Wein for southern Italian (see above)
- Helvetia upper deck – visit Casa de Vinos Argentinos for 45 Malbecs in the lineup (!)
- Helvetia upper deck – visit Savinis for South Africa
- Helvetia upper deck- bonus Steinfels Weinhandel for Spain and southern French (see above)
Everyone’s favorite wildcard: Spanish wine
In both lists we include Spanish wine as a popular wildcard. Because the mostly hot, dry country makes great versions of both “old Europe” and “New World” wine styles.
For starters we’re personally big fans of under-appreciated “fresh” Spanish whites Rueda (region name) and Albariño (grape name). Or try sparkling Cava, a super value in the bubbles world.
For reds, super-famous Rioja region often makes classic aged, “earthy”, mature, old-Europe style wines with Tempranillo grape blends. Challenger region Ribera del Duero uses more pure Tempranillo for a deeply concentrated but somewhat fresher style. Try other less-known regions too. Styles vary but values abound!
Conclusion: Your map to hidden treasure
The Expovina wine boats feature thousands of wines and often intimidating crowds and queues.
Avoid the worst crowds and maximize your chances of tasting new wines to love. Don’t treat your time there like a slot machine!
The most crowd-friendly wine styles come from Mediterranean Europe and “New World” countries. Follow the simple treasure map below to the recommended stand names above… prost!
Other tips or favorites? We’d love your comment below!