Suuser Festivals

October 6, 2008
by Silvia

red grapes

Suuser festivals celebrate the first product from this year’s grape harvest!

Suuser is partially fermented grape juice, and it is the first chance to grab a taste of this year’s harvest.

Suuser – or also referred to as sauser – is fruity and sweet, with a refreshing acidity and appealing fizz. It is mostly foggy in appearance, but don’t let that put you off. The cloudy look is simply the result of the juice not being filtered before its bottled.

The best suuser is sold unpasteurized, which means the juice is still in active fermentation mode. This explains why the bottles are merely covered and not completely closed. During the fermentation process, yeasts produce carbon dioxide gases, which must somehow escape the confines of a bottle. If the bottle was completely closed, then the pressure from the mounting gasses would eventually cause a rather devastating explosion. Needless to say, it is best to use a bit of caution when keeping your suuser in the refrigerator – make sure to keep the top loosely covered!

The first suuser makes its way to Switzerland from Italy, where the grapes are harvested earlier than Switzerland. The Italian suuser are made from red grapes, and they are only available for about one month. The alcohol level seldom goes over the 2% level. It is a very light and fruity drink…and a great way to get rid of some of the world’s annual surplus of wine.

The traditional October suuser season is quite a tradition in Eastern Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Each country produces and sells their own variety of sauser (called Federweisser in Germany and Sturm in Austria), which usually involve some sort of festival.

The suuser in Switzerland is mainly produced in Eastern Switzerland and usually with a white grape variety. It is not widely distributed and easy to find in your local shop. The Swiss prefer to buy and drink the young cloudy juice directly from the source.

Since Switzerland is sometimes a bit complicated in their labeling and classification laws, it should not be a surprise that suuser also has differing classifications. First, there is the Goofe-Suuser, which is a special suuser made especially for kids and contains no alcohol. Next, there is the Wyyber-Suuser, which is for the girls/women and has less alcohol than the final classification made for big boys –Manne-Suuser.

Suuser is also an unusual, but excellent partner to food. Try having a glass or two with roasted birds or with a few chestnuts. It is really a great alternative during the fall…and oh by the way, it is also pleasantly addictive!

Suuserchilbi on the 11th and 12th of October

There are a number of fall festivals celebrating wine during the month of October. One great opportunity to attend a festival celebrating suuser occurs during the weekend of the 11th and 12 of October in Obermeilen. The Suuserchilbi opens at 2pm on Saturday near the restaurant Zur alten Sonne on the Alte Landstrasse. There are plenty of food stands, a roller coaster for the kids, live music and of course plenty of suuser. The event will go late into the night on Saturday (no ending time) and resume Sunday at around 10 in the morning with a live jazz concert – and presumably more suuser. More information about the festival and transportation can be found on the Zueriseewi web site.