50 facts about wine

Red wineIn no particular order, here is a run down of 50 facts about wine, feel free to let us know what you think by posting a comment below

  1. The smell of young wine is called an “aroma” while a more mature wine offers a more subtle “bouquet.”
  2. In ancient Greece, a dinner host would take the first sip of wine to assure guests the wine was not poisoned, hence the phrase “drinking to one’s health.”
  3. “Toasting” started in ancient Rome when the Romans continued the Greek tradition but started dropping a piece of toasted bread into each wine glass to temper undesirable tastes or excessive acidity.
  4. A “cork-tease” is someone who constantly talks about the wine he or she will open but never does.
  5. Since wine tasting is essentially wine smelling, women tend to be better wine testers because women, particularly of reproductive ages, have a better sense of smell than men.
  6. Red wines are red because fermentation extracts color from the grape skins.
  7. White wines are not fermented with the skins present.
  8. Early Roman women were forbidden to drink wine, and a husband who found his wife drinking was at liberty to kill her. Divorce on the same grounds was last recorded in Rome in 194 B.C.
  9. The world’s oldest bottle of wine dates back to A.D. 325 and was found near the town of Speyer, Germany, inside one of two Roman sarcophaguses.
  10. There is increasing scientific evidence that moderate, regular wine drinking can reduce the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and gum disease.
  11. While wine offers certain medical benefits, it may slightly increase the risk of contracting certain kinds of cancer of the digestive tract, particularly the esophagus. There is also a slightly increased risk of breast cancer.
  12. Red wine, typically more than white wine, has antioxidant properties and contains resveratrol, which seems to be important in the cardio-protective effects of wine.
  13. California is the fourth-largest wine producer in the world, after France, Italy, and Spain.
  14. Swirling oxygenates wine and helps release its aromas
  15. Most wine is served in a glass that has a gently curved rim at the top to help contain the aromas in the glass. The thinner the glass and the finer the rim, the better. A flaring, trumpet-shaped class dissipates the aromas.
  16. When tasting wine, hold the wine in the mouth for a moment or two and then either swallow it or, preferably, spit it out, usually into a spittoon. A really good wine will have a long aftertaste, while an inferior wine will have a short aftertaste.
  17. Wine grapes rank number one among the world’s fruit crops in terms of acres planted.
  18. The worst place to store wine is usually in the kitchen because it is typically too warm to store wine safely. Refrigerators are not satisfactory for storing wine either. Even at their warmest setting, they’re too cold.
  19. Richer, heavier foods usually go well with richer, heavier wines; lighter foods demand light wines. Additionally, red wine typically is served with red meat, white wine with white meat and fish, and sweet wine with desserts.
  20. It is traditional to first serve lighter wines and then move to heavier wines throughout a meal. Additionally, white wine should be served before red, younger wine before older, and dry wine before sweet.
  21. Serving temperatures should be lower for white (45-50 degrees Fahrenheit) than for red wines (50-60 degrees Fahrenheit).
  22. The prohibitionists, or the “dry’s,” in the early twentieth century fought to remove any mention of wine from school and college texts, including Greek and Roman literature.
  23. The vintage year isn’t necessarily the year wine is bottled, because some wines may not be bottled the same year the grapes are picked. Typically, a vintage wine is a product of a single year’s harvest. A non-vintage wine is a blend of wines from two or more years.
  24. Wine glasses should always be held by the stem not the bowl - because the heat of your hand will raise the temperature of the wine.
  25. Champagne, one of the world’s greatest sparkling wines, is popularly but erroneously thought to have been invented by the Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Perignon (1638-1715). Although he did not invent or discover champagne, he founded many principles and processes in its production that are still in use today. And he purportedly declared upon drinking the bubbly beverage, “I am drinking stars.”
  26. Not all wines improve with time. In fact, a vast majority of wines produced are ready to drink and do not have much potential for aging. Only a rare few will last longer than a decade.
  27. European wines are named after their geographic locations (e.g., Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot and Bordeaux) while non-European wines (e.g., Pinot Noir and Merlot) are named after different grape varieties.
  28. Contrary to traditional belief, smelling the cork reveals little about the wine. Instead, if a server or sommelier hands you a cork, you should look for the date and other identifying information (inexpensive wine won’t have these features).
  29. A wine that has a musty smell, similar to wet cardboard or mold, may mean that the bottle is “corked” (the bottle has a contaminated cork). 
  30. Women are more susceptible to the effects of wine than men partly because they have less of an enzyme in the lining of the stomach that is needed to metabolize alcohol efficiently.
  31. When Tutankhamen’s tomb was opened in 1922, the wine jars buried with him were labeled with the year, the name of the winemaker, and comments such as “very good wine.” The labels were so specific that they could actually meet modern wine label laws of several countries.
  32. One ton of grapes produce about 60 cases of wine, or 720 bottles. One bottle of wine contains about 2.8 pounds of grapes.
  33. The combination of soil type, climate, degree of slope, and exposure to the sun constitutes the terroir of a vineyard and what makes each vineyard and each wine unique.
  34. Wine skins were a common way to transport wine in the ancient world. Animal skins (usually pig) were cleaned and tanned and turned inside out so that the hairy side was in contact with the wine.
  35. Traditionally, wine was never stored standing up. Keeping the wine on its side kept the wine in contact with the cork, thereby preventing the cork from drying, shrinking, and letting in air. However, wine can be stored vertically if the bottle has an artificial cork.
  36. A standard glass of dry red or white wine contains around 110 calories. Sweeter wine has more calories.
  37. The substance in wine that tingles the gums is tannin (related to the word “tan”), which is derived from the skins, pips, and stalks of grapes. It is usually found only in red wine and is an excellent antioxidant. Visually, it is the sediment found at the bottom of the bottle.
  38. Darker shades of wine (the deepest, blackest reds and the most golden whites) usually come from warm climates and are rich and ripe. Lighter colors, especially in white wines, come from cooler climates and are lighter and less lush.
  39. With age, red wines tend to lose color and will eventually end up a sort of brick red. On the other hand, white wines gain color, becoming golden and eventually brown-yellow.
  40. All wines taste like fruit. Only rarely does a wine taste like grapes—for example, Muscat or Concord wines.
  41. The Germans invented Eiswein, or wine that is made from frozen grapes.
  42. The word “champagne” is named after a province in France, meaning, “open country”. Due to the Protected Designation of Origin law in Europe, sparkling wine made outside the Champagne region of France can no longer be called “champagne.”
  43. The English word “wine” may be rooted in the Semitic yayin (lamentation and wailing). In Arabic, the word is wain, in Greek it is oinos, and in the Romance languages it is vin, vino, vina, vinho.
  44. Grapes are the only fruit that are capable of producing the proper nutrition for the yeast on its skin and sugar in its juice to ferment naturally.
  45. Archaeologists found grape pips (seeds), usually considered evidence of wine making, dating from 8000 B.C. in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. The oldest pips of cultivated vines were found in (then Soviet) Georgia from 7000-5000 B.C.
  46. Plato argued that the minimum drinking age should be 18, and then wine in moderation may be tasted until 31. When a man reaches 40, he may drink as much as he wants to cure the “crabbedness of old age.”
  47. Ancient Romans thought seasoning was more important than the primary flavor of wine and often added fermented fish sauce, garlic, asafetida (onion root), lead, and absinthe.
  48. A crop of newly planted grape vines takes four to five years to grow before it can be harvested.
  49. Red wine represents 55% of restaurant wine sales.
  50. Oenophobia is an intense fear or hatred of wine.

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