Zurich Wine Boats

Every fall, Zurich hosts an event in the lake near Burkliplatz for 2 weeks that we affectionately call the wine boats.  This year marks the 60th anniversary, and there was no way we were going to miss it.

The boats are all linked together so you can walk between them and the docks.  Aside from the wine vendors themselves, there are two boats set up as restaurants – one, happily, just for fondue.

There are approximately 4,500 different wines to try from all over the world, and after paying 20 francs, we were able to roam through.  The intent is to try the wine and then buy what you like.  We quickly realized the tastes we were given were very small, and some of the vendors seemed to have no interest.  Was it because they thought we wouldn’t buy?  Was it the language barrier?  Maybe, but we felt really awkward and uncomfortable at first.


What we came to realize was that in order for this to work, we needed some liquid courage.  Very similar to the chicken vs. the egg concept, we struggled through some of our taste requests to get just loose enough to get brave.  From there, we got creative.  We started to head to all of the stands that had no one standing around them and got served very quickly.  What blew my mind was that most of these stands were the local, Zurich Swiss wines and I couldn’t figure out why no one was interested in trying them.  Maybe because they were more easily accessible because they were already in Zurich and this was the one time a year to get wine from South Africa?  Who knows, but we took full advantage!

The whole situation made me feel just like Rose on the Titanic.  We were drinking delicious wine, swaying on the boats, having great conversation, Tony was my Jack – I was just glad they were docked and not out in the middle of the Atlantic!

After a few different tastings, we ended up ordering some wine to call our own.  We had a lot of fun in the educational process, the tasting, the smelling, the learning, the conversation.  We purchased some delicious Italian wine that was said to go great with pasta.

And we ordered some French Sauvignon Blanc for all of that fondue we plan on eating in the future.  Towards the end of the night, Tony found another Italian wine stand and also ordered some amazing olive oil.  I just have three words – nom nom nom.  The wine comes in boxes of 6 that we are splitting with our friends and will either be picked up by us or delivered within the next couple of weeks.


So my take aways for next year are as follows:

  • Always go on a week night – way less crowded
  • Make sure to eat something substantial in advance
  • Do some research – which ones are you actually interested in trying and buying
  • Slam a glass of wine ahead of time to give you more courage
  • Hit up the empty stands at the end of the night
  • Maybe bring your water floatie, just in case

Can’t wait to receive our wine!


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