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Advice From a 100-Year-Old Wine Shop…For Beginners.

GG Zurich
GG Zurich posted on July 28, 2020

Never be intimidated to step inside and learn from the best. Magnetically drawn into Kummer Weinhandlung in Seefeld to find out more about this 100-year-old family-run business, our contributor Emily got the inside scoop. She spoke to owner and wine expert Jakob Kummer for his top wine picks for summer and more.

The atmospheric scent of wine barrels fills the air the second you step inside the door of Kummer Weinhandlung. The shop is inviting, relaxed and filled with a sense of history. Jakob’s grandfather established the business and originally worked as a Cooper, making and repairing barrels for restaurants. This evolved into a wine-making business in the basement of the shop and continued until 1974. This love of wine passed from father to son, and now on to Jakob.

“I always had an interest in wine and wanted to work here. I went to business school and then specialist wine-making school. I also spent time learning how to make wine in Bordeaux and in the west of Switzerland.” – Jakob Kummer

His technical expertise and passion for wine is so clear. When asked what the best piece of business advice he’s ever received? “Listen to your customers. It’s not what I want. It’s what you want.”

Learning the basics

Jakob’s advice for people who are new to wine is to try lots of different types.

“Question yourself. What’s the smell like? What does it taste like? The important thing is the grape and there are so many to try. Take Chardonnay for example, it comes with or without a barrel. The taste will be different. The more you drink wine or the more you smell something, the more you learn about it. Your mind opens up.”

Changing tastes

One of the things about wine, like food and flavours, is that it’s personal. Some people will crave a crisp dry white wine, while younger palates might prefer a wine that’s heavy and sweet. Jakob explained that during your life, your preferences change. “Pinot noir is my favourite red wine. Before it was Bordeaux wine, before that Sangiovese from Italy. Now, you like a certain wine. In 10 years’ time, you might like a totally different one.” The joy is in the discovery and getting to know your own taste.

Sun, soil and time

Where wine comes from will have an impact on the taste. Jakob explained that even the year of production from the same vineyard will have an influence. “It’s like an apple. Just peeled it’s clear. If it’s left open, one hour later it is brown. Over time the flavours are different. When first bottled, all white wine is clear. Years later it will have darkened to yellow.” When it comes to choosing a nice summer wine, for Jakob it’s a light red or white with a lower alcohol content. “Some white wine has 11% and or even as low as 8%. This will be sweet and I think the ideal summer wine if it’s hot.”

Wine makers big and small

Curious to understand the difference between wine produced from small vineyards and how they differ to large wine makers? “Small producers will make the wine from nature and what the vineyard naturally gives, explained Jakob. In contrast, wine importers can tailor tastes. “They don’t own vineyards, so they buy from them. If people like a lightly sweet wine, they can mix grapes to get this flavour.” It is not unusual to find a mix of grapes in one wine.

Skin and Flesh

Merlot wine…is this a red wine, or white? Well, that depends, as it all has to do with the production process. The skin of the grape is what gives wine its colour. The flesh of all grapes is white. If wine is produced with the skin, this is where you will get the rich red colour. Separate the skin during production and you’ll have your white Merlot! It was also fascinating to discover that Georgia has winemaking traditions that date back to 6,000BC and it’s thought to be the birthplace of wine. For foodies, you can browse olive oil produced by a winery in Spain, risotto rice and balsamic vinegar from Ticino, non-alcoholic wine made from grape and apple and tea manufactured along lake Zurich. Kummer Weinhandlung is the perfect shop to start or continue your wine education and Jakob will be on hand to offer his expert guidance.

Kummer Weinhandlung
Wildbachstrasse 10, 8008 Zurich (map)
Website Tel: 044 383 75 55


Article contributed by: Emily Livingston, a Dublin native who follows a path in life full of adventure and fun. She’s happiest exploring, interviewing people about their life’s passion or getting lost in an art gallery or museum for a few hours! She loves writing about her latest finds on her blog, styleimprint.

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