Interesting Wine Facts



  1. Cream of tartar is a residue left on the sides of wooden wine casks, after fermented grape juice is removed  from the cask. Grapes are the only significant source of cream of tartar and there is no substitute for cream of tartar. Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and cream of tartar.
  2. A red wine grape can make white wine, but a white wine grape cannot make red wine. The juice of red, white and pink wine grapes is clear in color. Red wine is red because the juice is left in contact with the red or black grape skin until it achieves the degree of color that pleases the winemaker.
  3. The shape of the shallow and wide-mouthed Champagne or sparkling wine glass (similar to a sherbet glass) is claimed by the French to be a tribute to the "breast" of Marie Antoinette, but the Greeks claim the glass is a tribute to the "breast" of Helen of Troy.
  4. Italy is the world's largest producer of wine, producing 12%of the world's wine. The USA and France tie for second place at 11%. Spain is third, producing 9%of the world's production. China and Turkey tie for fourth place-producing more wine than then the individual productions of Argentina, Chile and Australia.
  5. A new French oak wine barrel costs $800 to $1200. A new American oak wine barrel costs $300 to $500. An oak wine barrel is capable of imparting oak flavor for only about three fills. The third fill will naturally have less oak flavor than the first fill.
  6. The deepest wine cellar in existence is aboard the Titanic. Despite the depth and age of the bottles, many of the wines are still preserved on the sea bed. Anyone for a chilled 1912 White Star Line Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon?
  7. Wine corks are harvested from the bark of the Cork Oak tree. The average life span of a Cork Oak is 150 to 200 years. The first harvest of a Cork Oak tree occurs when the tree is about twenty-five years old. Each tree yields sixteen bark strippings. The harvest date is painted on the bark of each tree, after each harvest. Laws protect these treasured trees, allowing them to be harvested only once every nine years. The cork trees of the western Mediterranean area are considered to yield the best quality wine corks with Portugal being the largest producer.
  8. The world's largest cork tree is the Whistler Tree, located in the Alentejo region of Portugal. The tree is over 212 years old and has been producing the world's finest corks since 1820. The Whistler tree is harvested every nine years and is currently producing enough cork for 100,000 wine bottles. The tree received its name from the many songbirds that live in its massive canopy.
  9. The average life span for a grapevine is 25 years, but grapevines are capable of producing for 100 years or more.
  10. Fermenting grape juice has approximately 6,000 yeast cells per ounce. Grapes will ferment naturally, if left untouched. This has led to the theory that wine was discovered by accident in the distant past.
  11. America's first wine district was located in Missouri. About 1830 German immigrants, from the Rhine River Valley, settled an area overlooking the Missouri River and produced the first commercially sold wine. Wine is still produced in the region today.
  12. The Auger or the curly metal part of a corkscrew is sometimes called a worm.
  13. In the late 1300's the Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Bold, issued a standing edict that never again would the "vile and noxious" Gamay plant be grown in the region. He declared that Pinot Noir would be its replacement and levied hefty fines against anyone that grew Gamay grapes or made wine from them. Unfortunately Pinot Noir is not an easy grape variety to grow so the edict resulted in shortages in wine throughout the region. The timing could not be worse. The Black Death was ravaging the populations of Europe. The lack of wine resulted in many people drinking contaminated water as there was nothing else to drink. It is ironic that a lack of wine proved fatal for so many.
  14. The early French word of butler is bottle. In the mid 1700's wealthy families would purchase or store their wine in large barrels. It was the responsibility of their head servant to make sure that wine was transferred into bottles to be served as needed. The bottles often had the family crest or seal on them. Over time the "bottler" became the butler we know today.
  15. An Ah-So is an oddly shaped corkscrew with a handle and two metal prongs but no worm (Screw part of a corkscrew). To remove the cork the flat metal blades are inserted into the neck of the bottle on either side of the cork. The cork is gently twisted and rocked to remove the cork. It was originally patented in 1879 under the name of the Magic Cork Extractor and was nicknamed "The Butler's Friend" as it allowed a disgruntled butler to remove the cork, drink the wine and replace it with an inferior wine without the tell tale hole in the cork.
  16. When eating cheese with wine it is best to leave the rind (Skin of the cheese) behind and just eat the interior, which is also known as paste. The reason for this is that the rind is made of bacteria, yeasts and molds that can make a wine taste bitter. Try it for yourself! Have a glass of white wine and taste a piece of the interior and take a sip of wine. Then repeat with a piece of cheese that still has the rind attached.
  17. Many French blended and specialty wines are patented under international law. This means that you can often get a bottle of wine made from the same grape variety in another country that is named differently. An example is Champagne which is a well known sparkling white wine that is grown in the Champagne region of France. An identical wine that is grown elsewhere in the world is often called a "Sparkling Wine" due to the copyright.
  18. When wine is used in cooking a large portion of the alcohol evaporates. If the wine is cooked or simmered for 15 minutes, only about 40% of the original alcohol remains.
  19. In the 17th and 18th centuries the French wine regions of Burgundy and Champagne locked in a bitter dispute over competing sales of red wine.  The argument of which red was better was eventually brought before the Medical Board of Paris. Their final judgment was "A man has to have both wines, just as he needs two legs". Today Burgundy is famous for its rich selection of red wines while Champagne is known for its sparkling white wines. It is interesting to note that the Champagne region still produces red wines such as Pinot Noir but for mostly local consumption.
  20. When the temperature drops to about 45 degrees Fahrenheit, all metabolic changes in a grapevine come to a halt. In other words, the grapevine stops the action of converting the carbohydrates to sugars and the grapes stop ripening. In warm regions such as California and Australia, this daily pause in ripening allows the acidity to be preserved in the grapes and keeps the grapes from becoming so ripe that the wine would taste like liquid prunes.
  21. Zinfandel has been dubbed "America's Grape" by many wine connoisseurs, but scientists have known for decades that Zinfandel grapes originally came from Europe. As a result of DNA fingerprinting of grape vines , we know that Zinfandel is native to the Dalmation coast of Croatia, where it is known as crljenak kastelanski. At some point in the 1800's crljenak was brought to the eastern seaboard of the United States. Years later, it was shipped to California, where it quickly became one of the state's leading varieties. The origin of the new name Zinfandel is unknown, although it has been suggested that it is a corruption of the name Ziefandler, which is an Austrian grape that is not directly related to the Zinfandel variety.
  22. There are approximately 5000 different grape varieties that are used in wine making according to scientists. These 5000 grape varieties have over 24,000 names due to regional references. (Syrah in France, for example, is Shiraz in Australia). Of the 5000 varieties only about 150 are planted in commercially significant amounts. What's amazing about this is how narrow our choices are considering the possibilities.
  23. The Concord is the name of the leading grape variety belonging to the native American grapevine species Vitis Labrusca. It grows prominently in New York State, where it is sometimes made into wine, but is more often made into Concord grape juice and Concord grape jelly. New York produces more grapes and more grape juice than any other state, including the well known brand of Welch's Grape Juice. Dr. Thomas Welch, the inventor of the product was an ardent prohibitionist, if it was not for him New York could have developed into the most important wine region in the United States.
  24. Estate bottled means that the wines have been made strictly with grapes that are either owned by the winery or under their viticultural control through a long term lease. The wine must also be completely produced, aged and bottled at the winery. An estate wine is not necessarily better than a non-estate wine but it often indicates that the wine makers have put their own custom touches on the wine flavor and quality.
  25. The "finish" of a wine is the lingering flavor after you have swallowed. The longer the finish the better the wine is considered.
  26. There are 25,000 genes in the human genome, and approximately 1000 of them are tied directly to your sense of smell. Although there is a significant amount of training needed to smell all the aromas of a good wine, a portion of the skill is also genetic. One person may smell a peppery scent while another may smell pear. Scientists have determined that there is a 2 - 3% genetic variation among humans, this explains why what you smell may not be what your companion smells.
  27. The most famous vineyards in France are located in the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. Located in the small Burgundian villages of Vosne-Romanee and Echezeaux the domaine produces wine from seven tiny parcels of land. The vineyards are so legendary that the French army salutes them when passing. 
  28. Two of the world's most difficult to make wines are Port and Champagne. While they have very different flavours, they both have long and complicated production processes. They are also both subject to the stock reserve legislation which states that a certain amount of wine must be held back from sale in reserve from each years production. For example Champagne makers must hold 20% of their annual production in reserve which ensures that the wine will never be off the market. Even if a natural disaster befell the wine making regions there would still be a supply of reserve stock available for sale. As of 2003 it is estimated that approximately 100 million bottles of Champagne are being held in reserve. In Portugal, port shippers must hold in reserve three cases for every case that is sold. This limitation ensures that no shipper would be inclined to dramatically increase production and flood the market, thereby lowering the reputation of the wine and the price it commands.