The Inside Scoop on the Wine Boats of Zurich

The Zurich Wine Exhibition sponsored by Expovina is a Swiss event not to be missed. Every November, the ferryboats of Lake Zurich line up to form an impressive fleet dedicated to showcasing wine, wine, and more wine. Here are the top 10 things you need to know about Zurich’s Wine Boats before diving headfirst into the vino.

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1. It’s kind of a big deal!
What began as a small one-boat event to feature Swiss wine in the 1950s, Expovina’s Zürcher Wein-Ausstellung was a hit from the very start. Now, over sixty years later, 12 vessels host 170 vendors that feature over 4,000 wines from around the world. That’s a lot of wine for the tasting!

In fact, for any one person to sample every bottle the wine boats have to offer during the 120 hours of the exhibition, they would have to taste 33 wines per hour! In other words, they would have to sip one new wine every 1.8 minutes. Not exactly a feasible challenge, even for the lushiest of wine-os.

But this is Zurich, where cool reserve and classy swag apply to wine tastings, too. Pounding back the booze is not really acceptable on these boats; that’s what Street Parade is for…

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2. The Zurich Wine Exhibition is surprisingly affordable!
With so much wine on the table, you’d think that the Zurich Price Tag would come into play. However, this has to be one of the best drinking deals in Switzerland. The admission fee is only 25 CHF. Trust me – it’s a steal of a deal in Zurich!

3. The Wine Boats can be crowded… or not at all.
Of course, such a sweet deal attracts a lot of interest. The boats are packed at peak times, such as after work hours and on the weekends. The bulky crowds may take away from your enjoyment of the experience; fortunately, there are times when the boats feel empty. Typically, visiting early in the afternoon on a weekday will allow you to have actual space to breath, sip, and explore this floating world of wine at a leisurely pace.

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4. You can dine on a ship and get free admission.
Three of the twelve boats at the Zurich Wine Expo are restaurants. The admission fee is waived between 11:30am-12:30pm if you have a reservation at one of the three onboard restaurants. Dining options range from Italian cuisine on the Wadin, fine European and Swiss dining on the Rosenstadt, or fondue and raclette on the Panta Rhei. Although your meal will most likely cost more than 25 CHF, the wine boats make for a memorable meal in Zurich.

5. It’s a fun event to share with a friend or two, but perhaps not more.
When the boats fill up, it’s hard to move around with a big group of people in tow. So, instead of going with your gaggle of girlfriends or pack of dudes, taste the day away with one or two buddies. That way you’ll be able to maneuver more easily through the ships’ passageways and you can saddle up to the counters togethers.

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6. Getting to know the vendors can add a lot to your experience.
For me, one of my favorite things was chatting with some of the representatives at the booths. Some of them were very engaging and were eager to share their vintages. However, when the boats are full, I’ve been told that the reps are less chatty and more focused on pouring glasses, as the job becomes more demanding.

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7. With a sharpened focus, you can really taste test.img_8782
It’s not very hard to send your taste buds into alcoholic overload during a day at the wine boats. So, instead of bee lining it to the first open booth you see, consider targeting a particular wine or region. For example, if you prefer red wine, then stick with the reds. If you’re curious about Swiss wine, go for them. If you love the bubbles, compare sparkling wines only. When your tour of the wine boats has a mission, you can feel like you accomplished something at the end of the day.

8. Making notes could be a helpful practice.
No matter if you plan on sampling 4 or 40 wines, you’ll have an easier time remembering your favorites if you track your progress along the way. Expovina features every vendor in its free wine catalogue, where you can jot down some reminders for later. Just try to make them legible.

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9. Purchases are made in bulk orders only.
If you find a must-have vintage, the reps are eager to help you place an order. After all, they are there to sell wine, too! The catch is that most wine orders have a 6-bottle minimum. For this reason, it’s great to have a wine buddy to split a case of your collective favorite(s).

10. Swiss wine remains at the heart of the event.
Most of the world is unaware of the many wines that Switzerland produces. The Zurich Wine Exhibition is here to show you what they are all about. Just call me if you need a wine boat buddy ;-)

img_8851Hey Fellow Wine-Os! Is my Swiss city and this flavorful event now on your Travel Bucket List? Have you ever had a memorable wine tasting experience? Did you know that Switzerland produces wine? If so, have you ever had a Swiss wine? If you’d like to know more about wine in Switzerland, click HERE to read more.


The 2016 Zurich Wine Exhibition is stationed at the Bürkliplatz docks from now until November 17. Visitors must be at least 18 years old to enter. For more information, visit the Expovina website HERE.

Hours of Operation – The Wine Exhibition
1:00pm – 9:00pm Monday to Saturday

11:00am – 7:00pm Sundays

Hours of Operation – The Onboard Restaurants
11:30am – Midnight Monday to Saturday

11:00am – 9:00pm Sundays

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