TO really get the best out of Swiss wine you have to drink it in Switzerland. One reason is that the clear, clean air of the country seems to bring out the best in it, and the wine complements the scenery perfectly. On a more prosaic level, relatively little Swiss wine is intended to be exported, and the best tends to be consumed locally. Most Swiss wineries are small concerns with few vineyard holdings exceeding three hectares. Although some of these operations band together in larger collectives, many vignerons make wine purely for local consumption and have their own regular customers to whom they sell direct. Drinking wine is a part of the Swiss way of living. Vineyards are omnipresent, particularly in the Geneva, Neuchatel, Valais and Vaud areas of French-speaking Switzerland where about 80 per cent of the country's total wine production is concentrated. More than 10,000 hectares are under vine, the great majority of it devoted to growing the Chasselas grape. In most countries, the Chasselas would be reserved, unfermented, for the table, but Swiss grapes are grown more or less exclusively for purposes of vinification, and the Chasselas remains the grape of choice. Known by various names in different parts of the country - Dorin in the Vaud, Perlan in Geneva and Neuchatel and Fendant in the Valais - Chasselas has little character of its own, which allows it to mirror the character of the territory. Although most people associate Swiss wine with clear refreshing whites, the country also makes a surprising amount of red, which represents about one third of its total production of about one million hectolitres per year. The best Swiss reds come from the Italian-speaking areas of Grisons and Ticino where particularly good Merlot wines are made. The Dole reds from the Valais, however, which are made from Pinot Noir blended with Gamay, are pleasant light reds which somewhat resemble Beaujolais. Swiss wine makers tend to be traditionally minded, partly because many wineries have been family businesses for centuries. The younger generation of vignerons is increasingly modernising production and tentatively experimenting with new styles. The Chasselas grape retains its dominance, but some wine makers with an eye to the international market are becoming more interested in experimenting with Chardonnay. Swiss wine is meant to go with Swiss food, and since this tends towards the heavy side with a solid emphasis on bread, meat and cheese, a glass or two of something to help break down the cholesterol is a healthy precaution. Dishes worth trying with Swiss wines include fondue, raclette, charcuterie and fresh lake and river fish. Swiss wine is available in Hong Kong, primarily through restaurants such as the Peninsula's Chesa and the Royal Pacific Hotel's Chalet, which has an all-Swiss list. There are a number of carefully mapped out vineyard walks which provide a thorough introduction. to the subject, and information on them is available from the Swiss National Tourist Office.