Swiss Supermarket Discoveries Part IV: What to drink

What's New — By Sonja Holverson on August 9, 2010 at 1:08 am

Isostar L Carnitin Electrolyte tablets:image courtesy of

Swiss Drinks to Quench your Wanderlust Thirst

Electrolyte drinks will help you get uphill (even if it’s in the city, but certainly important in altitude). I recommend carrying a tube of IsoStar tablets (Coop supermarket) which you can mix with your bottled water either in a large cup or the entire bottle (1 tablet per liter). It also comes in a large can of powder or in liquid drink bottles, but the tablets are very convenient and you’ll have a choice with what you do with your water supply. You also buy it ready to drink. I guarantee that it will help you fly up those Alps!

For winter hiking, a good thermos with hot tea or coffee or just hot water and add what you like. If you overnight in a mountain refuge (cabin) they will fill your thermos with hot water the next morning.
The Swiss favorite for cold beverages is an unusual beverage that looks like soda pop or apple juice but is actually a carbonated soft drink created in 1952 made from whey (the watery liquid that separates from the curd when the Swiss milk is clotted, as when making Swiss cheese).

Rivella "Milk" Soft Drink: image courtesy of

Therefore it includes ingredients such as lactose, lactic acid and minerals. It is also sold in The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, and the east of France. It was even once sold in the USA. But later it was discontinued in America from lack of interest.

Personally, I think it is more about Swiss patriotism than flavor. But you have to try it! Red Rivella is considered as the original version. Blue Rivella is a low calorie version of Red Rivella (diet-focused adaptation) and Green Rivella is aromatized with green tea extract (Zen-focused adaptation).

Henniez bottled water is the Swiss national water which is omnipresent. All locals and service persons secretly know the color codes and waitors never ask if you want gas or no gas – its’” do you want red (with gas) or blue (no gas) or green (light gas)?” Some Italian waters are not looked down such San Pelegrino which you can safely order or purchase (without social stignma( since there is a huge Italian population in Switzerland including the Swiss Italians. It is “gazeifee” (with gas).

San Pellegrino Italian Bubbly: image courtesy of

To your health! Image courtesy of

For still water there is always the French Evian just down the shoreline which is also culturally acceptable to the Swiss as least in the Lac Leman region (Lake Geneva)! Valser (from the Valais region) is also a Swiss water brand but has been purchased by Coca-Cola so that might make a difference in loyal Swiss customers’ attitudes.

If you need more of an energy burst than a thirst quencher, there are dozens of yoghurt based drinks of various forms with promises of miracles available on the Supermarket shelves.

End of a Swiss Day "L'aperitif": image coutesy of

Naturally, there are superb local Swiss wines and Swiss beers, but this might be best purchased at the end of the day when you have finished with your touring or hiking. Then you can get it cold if you like white wine (some supermarkets have cold wine and champagne refrigerators like Coop (even with splits of Veuve Cliquot that are lovely if you don’t want a full bottle).

For purchasing wine in the supermarket (no alcohol is sold in Migros) there is a huge choice of local wines. But since many vineyards only produce small amounts, you may not find something specific such as from the Cave de la Cour Blondel Family or Les Freres Dubois winemakers which usually sell their bottles in their village of Cully near Lausanne. However, whatever you buy, you really cannot go wrong with any “Suisse Romande” wines and many are not at all expensive. Swiss wines from La Côte region and Lavaux are all excellent and you will rarely find them outside of Switzerland since they come from small exclusive winemakers (See Swiss Wine Tasting Discoveries in the Vineyards of Lavaux).

Lavaux Collection: image courtesy of Cave de la Cour Blondel Cully

There are dozens of Swiss beer brands, especially those made in the Swiss German speaking region but I will suggest some that are closer to this region. Cardinal, made in Fribourg, is a popular brand in “Suisse Romande” the (French speaking region) and there are several varieties. Cardinal Lager is mild, slightly bitter but with a decent aftertaste. It is refreshing and easy to drink although a bit watery. Cardinal Dunkelbier is fruitier and a bit sweet for some people. Cardinal Speciale is smooth, balanced but not very spicy and probably not as special as its name.

Cardinal Brewery Fribourg: image courtesy of

From Berne (the capital of Switzerland and not so far away) is the home of Baeregold Spezial (Baere refers to Bears, the emblem of the Canton of Berne where you find the live  bears in the pit in the old town. Baeregold Spezial is also fruity as well as “hoppy”, known as the “Gurten” flavor in German.



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Tags: America, Austria, Berne, Blondel, Cardinal, Coca-Cola, Denner, Evian, France, French, Geneva, Germany, Grocery Store, Henniez, Italian, Lausanne, Lavaux, Luxembourg, milk, Rivella, shopping, supermarket, Swiss, Swiss beers” “Swiss wines”, Switzerland, The Netherlands, USA, Veuve Cliquot, vineyards, winemakers, yoghurt, Zen, “French speaking region”, “La Cote”, “Lac Leman”, “Lake Geneva”, “Les Freres Dubois”, “soda pop”, “Suisse Romande”, “Swiss German speaking region”, “Swiss patriotism”


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