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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
One ton of grapes produce about 60 cases of wine, or 720 bottles. One bottle of wine contains about 2.8 pounds of grapes.
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.
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.
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.
A standard glass of dry red or white wine contains around 110 calories. Sweeter wine has more calories.
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.
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.
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.
All wines taste like fruit. Only rarely does a wine taste like grapes—for example, Muscat or Concord wines.
The Germans invented Eiswein, or wine that is made from frozen grapes.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
A crop of newly planted grape vines takes four to five years to grow before it can be harvested.
Red wine represents 55% of restaurant wine sales.
Oenophobia is an intense fear or hatred of wine.
Read 25 more facts about wine on the previous page…