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Wine Trivia

 Here are some rules of thumb for chilling wines in an ice bath before serving. Add some kosher salt to a bucket of ice and:

-          Chill most red wines for about 5 minutes.

-          Chill red wines such as Beaujolais for about 15 minutes.

-          Chill most white wines for about 15 to 25 minutes.

-          Chill Champagne and sparkling wines for about 30 minutes.

The Mesopotamians were credited with producing the first wines in 6000 B.C.

When grapes ferment into wine, the most important chemical reaction is the transformation of sugar into alcohol.

A typical wine contains 86% water, 11.2% alcohol, 2.8% other. Over 250 compounds have been identified in "other". That is why wine making is an art and not a science.

The 17th century Benedictine monk, Dom Perignon, said that upon his first taste of champagne he cried, “Come quickly, I am tasting stars.”

Here are some numbers to give you an idea of what goes into your wines.  These are average numbers the actual numbers vary widely depending on the type of wine produced.           

1 cluster = 75 grapes

1 glass =  1 clusters

1 bottle =  4 clusters

1 bottle = 2 ½ lbs of grapes

1 vine =  40 clusters

1 vine =  10 bottles

1 barrel = 30 vines

1 barrel =  1,200 clusters

1 barrel =  60 gallons

1 barrel =  25 cases

1 barrel =  300 bottles

1 acre =  13 ½ barrels

1 acre =  400 vines

1 acre =  16,000 clusters

1 acre =  332 cases

1 acre =  3,984 bottles

1 acre = 800 gallons

The difference between champagne and sparkling wine is all in where the wine is made. If it is made in an area in France known as Champagne than it can be called champagne. If not it is just sparkling wine.

There is growing scientific evidence that regular moderate consumption of wine is good for you. Red wine in particular is said to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The cholesterol that blocks arteries is low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LPD). This is cleared from the blood by high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HPD). Both are carried in the blood.

Cork is used to stop wine bottles because its structure renders it light, elastic, and impermeable to most liquids and gases. Corks are produced using the bark of cork trees grown in the western Mediterranean.

The human foot is ideally suited to crushing grapes. Manual treading breaks the grapes, mashes the skins, and mixes them with the juice but doesn’t break open the grape seeds that would give the wine a bitter taste.

Grapevines don’t produce good wine grapes until they are at least three or four years old. As the vine ages, the yield tends to decrease, but the quality may improve.   With proper care and luck, they may continue producing a viable crop for fifty or one hundred years, or more.

Sulfite is a term used to describe sulfur dioxide and other sulfur derivatives. Sulfites are found in all wines as they are a natural product of fermentation. Sulfur dioxide is used in wine making to prevent oxidation, kill bacteria and wild yeasts, and encourage quick and clean fermentation.

American wine drinkers consume more wine on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year.

There are 24,000 names for varieties of wine grapes, corresponding to between 5,000 and 10,000 actual varieties. However, only about 150 are commercially important.

Generally a bottle of wine measures the liquid in milliliters, with 750 ml being the standard amount in most bottles (or about 25 fluid ounces).  This is usually considered to be 4 glasses. As a rule of thumb, it takes about 2.4 pounds of grapes (usually 600 to 800 grapes) to produce a bottle of wine.

Wine grapes are the single most widely planted fruit crop. There are 20 million acres of grapes planted worldwide, just about enough to supply every adult living in the United States with a bottle a day.

Luxembourg leads the world in per capita wine consumption, beating the US by a factor of more than 7.5 to 1.

The country reporting the lowest per capita wine consumption is Mexico, at less than a glass of wine per person per year.

The world’s most planted grape varietal is Airén. It occupies over 1 million acres in central Spain where it is made into mediocre white wine, but some quite good brandy. This acreage is approximately twice that devoted to grape plantings in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

The Languedoc-Roussilion region of southern France produces more wine than the entire United States.

One 4 fl oz glass of typical white wine contains about 80 calories; while a glass of a typical red contains about 95 calories.

Chemists have identified over 250 compounds in wine, making it more complex than blood serum.

The California wine industry provides about 150,000 jobs. This may not be surprising when you consider that more than 160 countries import California wines.

Napa Valley recently surpassed Disneyland as California’s No. 1 tourist destination with 5.5 million visitors a year.

California is the American state producing by far the most wine however; all fifty states can claim at least one commercial winery.

According to scientist Bill Lembeck there are approximately 49 million bubbles in an average bottle of sparkling wine, but an estimated 250 million bubbles in a bottle of Champagne.

All these bubbles generate about 90 pounds per square inch pressure in a bottle of Champagne, approximately three times the pressure in your automobile tires.

Typical dessert wines range from 5 to 30 percent residual sugar.

The Hungarian Tokaji Esszencia, one of the world’s finest dessert wines, contains up to 85% residual sugar. Only a special strain of yeast is able to ferment it, ever so slowly. One must wait decades for Tokaji Esszencia to attain 5 or 6 percent of alcohol.

98% of all commercially produced wine in the world is consumed within 1 week of purchase and over 90% of the world’s wine is consumed within two years of its vintage date.

Ranking of United States in world wine production (1999)—4th—533,596,000 gallons (behind Italy, France and Spain) (2008)

Prior to harvesting, many growers thin or remove the canopy of leaves at the top of the vine. This increases the grapes' exposure to the sun and hastens their ripening.

By swirling your wine, oxygen is invited into the glass, which allows the aromas to escape.

A one-inch cube of cork contains about 200 million fourteen-sided cells filled with air.

A cork tree is first harvested at about age twenty-five years. Subsequent harvests occur once every nine years for a total of about fifteen harvests.

Portugal is the main source of wine corks. At one time it produced thirteen billion of them per year.

Extraction a cork from a wine bottle requires between 50 and 100 pounds of pulling force.

Italy has about 900,000 registered vineyards, and more than a thousand grape varieties.

The only major city in the world that includes a commercially significant wine region is Vienna, Austria whose city limits enclose more than 1,700 acres of grapes.

A glass of wine served between 44º and 59º F ( 6.6º and 15º C) warms up a degree Fahrenheit approximately every seven minutes until reaching room temperature. A wine served between 39º and 44º F (4º and 6.6º C) gains a degree approximately every four minutes.

In 1823 the first commercial US winery was founded in the state of Missouri.

The Speyer Museum in central Germany contains the oldest bottle of wine in the world, dating back to about 300 A. D.

While a trained individual may pick 2 tons of grapes a day, a mechanical harvester can pick 40 to 100 times as much.

If you’re planning to tastes several wines in a row, begin with the light whites and work your way through the full-bodied whites, followed by light reds and then finish with the heavy reds.

Stack wine bottles on their sides to keep the cork moist and prevent air seepage.

As a rule of thumb, grapes grown in higher altitudes lead to higher acidity.

In most of Europe 1600 feet (480 meters) is considered the upper limit for ripening.

It costs about $0.90 cents per bottle to age wine in a used French oak barrel, but about $2.50 to age it in a new French oak barrel.

In the year 2000 Americans spent $20 billion on wine, almost three quarters of which went to California wines.

The most expensive bottle of wine was auctioned at Christies, London, in December 1985. The buyer paid £105,000 (over $180,000 depending on the exchange rate) for a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafitte red Bordeaux, engraved with Thomas Jefferson’s initials.  But…. before it was consumed the cork dried out, slid into the bottle and ruined the wine.

On the average an acre of land produces 5 tons of grapes, or, in other terms, a little less than four thousand bottles of wine. If you drank a bottle of wine a day, it would take eleven years to consume the output of a one acre vineyard.

Top quality Napa Valley vineyard land sells for more than $100,000 per acre. The average yield per acre is five tons or 10,000 pounds, this means the land cost may be $10 per pound of grapes. Remember also that an average bottle of wine requires 2.4 pounds of grapes. Putting these numbers together, the land cost for a bottle of top quality Napa Valley wine may be $24. The average cost of the grapes in a $20 bottle of wine is estimated at $2.64.

The first known reference to a specific wine vintage was by the Roman historian Pliny the Elder who, almost 200 years later, wrote that the 121 B.C. vintage was “of the highest excellence.”

Back around 4000 B. C., the Egyptians started using corks as wine stoppers.

A pottery jar dated between 3500 and 2900 B.C. containing a wine fermentation deposit was found in western Iran.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest wine production came from sites in Georgia and Iran, dating from 6000 to 5000 BC.

The ancient Greeks rejected intoxication. In their eyes, only barbarians drank wine straight. They always diluted wine with more than an equal proportion of water.

The Egyptians were the first to make glass wine containers around 1500 B. C.

Cyprus’s best known wine is Commandaria, a fortified dessert wine. It is perhaps the oldest continuously produced wine dating back to 1000 B.C.

Grapes have been cultivated in Spain since 400 B. C.

Closed oak barrels first came into use during the Roman Empire.

In 1564 French Huguenots at Fort Caroline, Florida made the first American wine.

One of the world’s most famous wines is the Hungarian Imperial Tokaji, which is said to age three hundred years.   The Russian czars loved it so much that they maintained a detachment of Cossacks whose only duty was to escort Tokaji shipments from Hungary to Russia.

The vanilla flavor in wine comes when newer oak barrels are used in the winemaking process, the wines will often have a hint of vanilla in both the aroma and flavor.

A wine’s degree of color often indicates its intensity of flavor.

Cork was developed as a bottle closure in the late 17th century. It was only after this that bottles were lain down for aging and the bottle shapes slowly changed from short and bulbous to tall and slender.

Back in the 1600s Hungary’s famous Tokaji region was the first to classify wine based on quality. This region probably produced the world’s first botryris (noble rot) wine in 1647, when they delayed the harvest to prevent the invading Turkish troops from appropriating the juice. It is said, “Twas a brave man that first ate an oyster” and similarly twas a brave person that first harvested botryised grapes.

The term “Blanc de Noir” refers to white wine made from red/black grapes.

One of the greatest wine displays is in the Wine Cellar and Tasting Room of the Rio Suite in Las Vegas, Nevada. Valued at more than $6 million, this display includes renowned centerpieces such as the $2 million Chateau d´Yquem collection, with a bottle from every vintage produced between 1855 and 1990, and a bottle of 1800 Madeira once owned by President Thomas Jefferson.

When Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii in volcanic lava in 79 A. D., it entombed more than 200 wine bars, eight on a single street. Mount Vesuvius was well known for its vineyards, prior to it erupting.

Many believe that the French monk Dom Perignon invented champagne, but he did not. He was, however, responsible for the wire cage and mushroom shaped cork which reduces the likelihood of exploding bottles. He also was a master in blending grapes.

Evidence of the earliest European wine production has been uncovered at archaeological sites in Macedonia, dated to 6,500 years ago.

Labels were first put on wine bottles in the early 1700s, but it wasn’t until the 1860s that suitable glues were developed to hold them on the bottles.

The Duoro region of Portugal, famous for port, was the first geographically delimited wine region, back in 1756.

French oak barrels come from trees whose average age is 170 years.

Twenty years ago a typical acre in a California vineyard contained between four and six hundred vines. Today this same acre may contain between six hundred to three thousand vines!

In 1860 the corkscrew was invented and the world’s first wine school was founded in Klosterneuberg, Austria.

Before the Civil War, Ohio was the most important wine producing state in the United States.

At 3000 meters (9900 feet) the Colome vineyard in Argentina is the highest in the world.

The clay subsoil of the world famous Chateau d’Yquem’s vineyard contains 62 miles (100 kilometers) of terra-cotta pipes, which were laid down at the end of the 19th century to improve water drainage.

The first AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the United States was accorded to Augusta, Missouri in 1980. Napa Valley was the second.

Grapevines do not consistently reproduce from seed, but are grafted onto rootstock.

Wine grapes grow best in relatively thin topsoil with good drainage and water retention. Rich soil usually leads to bland, poor wines.

Wine making technology, such as the wine press, improved considerably during the time of the Roman Empire; many grape varieties and cultivation techniques were known and barrels were developed for storing and shipping wine.

To optimize output, producers generally plant vines farther apart in fertile soils than in poor ones.

The first California grapes were planted at Mission San Diego in 1769.

Excessive water, whether from irrigation or a dreaded downpour right before harvesting, swells the grapes and dilutes their flavor.

A major advantage claimed for hand harvested grapes is more careful handling. Sharp-eyed workers won’t pick unripe or otherwise unsatisfactory grape bunches. Many of the finest wines in the world are handpicked by people in a series of rounds.

Warm soils such as gravel, loam, and sand hasten the ripening process, while cold soils such as clay delay it. Dark, dry soils are warmer than cold wet ones.

Picking grapes on cool nights increases their acidity, reduces their oxidation rate and slows the rate at which grape skins color the clear juice.

While sugar levels help determine when grapes are ready for harvesting, it’s essential to wait until the tannins are mature. Immature (green) tannins can create an astringent wine and may prevent it from aging properly.

The more gently the grapes are pressed, the lower the quantity of juice extracted, but the better its quality. The juice with the best flavor and the optimum balance of acidity and sugar comes from the pulp located between the grape seeds and the skin. The harder the grapes are pressed, the greater the quantity of juice extracted from less desirable pulp located near the skin or near the seeds.

Thomas Jefferson helped stock the wine cellars of the first five U.S. presidents and was very partial to fine Bordeaux and Madeira.

An untrained vine grows wildly in all directions. Training the vine along a trellis supports it, and enables the grower to determine the amount and positioning of both leaves and fruit. In the hands of an expert, such control improves the quality of the grapes, even while reducing their quantity.

Up to 85 percent of a vine’s flowers die without setting, never becoming grapes. 

Wine matures more slowly in large bottles than in small ones, because the larger the bottle the less oxygen per volume of wine.

Upon his arrival in North America in 1001 A. D., the Norwegian explorer Leif Ericson was so impressed by the abundance of grapevines that he named it Vinland.

The University of Pennsylvania has found that the Chinese may have been fermenting alcoholic beverages and wine as early as 6000 B.C.  This is due to evidence of tartaric acid that has been found on shards of Chinese pottery.  Tartaric acid is an organic acid that is found in wine.

The vintage year isn’t necessarily the year the wine was bottled.  In the northern hemisphere, white wines may not be bottled the same year the grapes are picked.

When the fermentation temperature exceeds 90ºF (32ºC) or falls below 38ºF (3ºC), the yeast can no longer do their job and fermentation slows to a snail’s pace or stops.

While European oak is split, American oak is sawn. Sawing the oak breaks open the wood cells, and releases aromatic substances such as vanillin.

Grapes used for Icewine must be completely ripe with clean, unbroken skins. They actually freeze on the vine. Harvest time usually starts in mid-December, around 3 o’clock in the morning.

The color in red wines comes from grape skins. The longer the skins soak in the fermenting mixture, the darker the wine.

A pale color with green highlights may indicate a wine from a cooler growing area; one that is often pleasantly acidic.

Wine bottles with a screw top lid may be stored upright.

Generally, cool temperature fermentations are very slow and produce fresh, lively, fragrant wines.

Spraying vines with water may prevent the grapes from freezing. The water freezes into a thin coat which protects the entire plant from additional freezing.

American oak is kiln-dried, whereas most European oak is seasoned outdoors for several years. This seasoning leads to the loss of both positive aromas and negative tannins. You don’t have to be a professional wine taster to distinguish the aggressive American oaked wine, and the more subtle European oaked wine.

The Egyptians were the first to make glass containers around 1500 B.C.E.

Small grapes such as Pinot Noir produce the most concentrated, flavorful wines.

Champagne and other sparkling wines may be stored upright because the carbonic gas in between the bottom of the cork and the top of the wine keeps the cork moist and swollen.

When storing wine avoid areas that have rapid temperature changes because it can make the cork shrink and expand and eventually create a gap on the bottle’s neck which allows air to seep in and spoil the wine.

For most of history, young wine cost more than old wine. In the eighteenth century bottles and corks made storing wine practical increasing the value of old wines.

Wine is fermented in barrels filled to only about three-quarters full. This reduces loss due to foaming of the fermenting juice..

It is the VERY slow interaction of oxygen and wine that produces the changes noticed in aging wine. It is believed that wine ages more slowly in larger bottles, since there is less oxygen per volume of wine in larger bottles. Rapid oxidation, as with a leaky cork, spoils wine.

Experts recommend storing wine at a constant temperature of 55º F / 13º C and humidity of 70 to 75 percent.

To experience how wine evolves in the glass, don’t top up wine glasses containing more than two sips.

An over or under chilled wine loses its aroma and flavor.

Dom Perignon (1638-1715), the cellar master of the Hautvillers Benedictine Abbey was blind.

The lip of a red wine glass slopes inwardly to hold the aroma.

Australia developed wine in a box in the ‘70s.  The wine inside of the box is stored in a bladder that is not exposed to air.  This means that the wine may last up to a few weeks compared to a few days.

Thomas Jefferson helped stock the wine cellars of the first five U.S. presidents and was very partial to fine Bordaux and Madeira.

A typical grape berry is, by weight, 75% pulp, 20 % skin, and 5% seeds. Small grapes such as Pinot Noir have a larger portion of skin to pulp.

Old wine almost never turns to vinegar. It spoils by oxidation.

In Ancient Egypt (around 1300 BC), commoners drank beer and the upper class drank wine.

A moderate wind cools and dries grapes, reducing the likelihood of mildew and rot, especially for varieties such as Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, whose grapes grow in close-fitting clusters.

In 1945, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild launched a series of distinctive labels, with each vintage sporting the work of a different artist, including Salvador Dali, Henry Moore, Marc Chagall, and Pablo Picasso. The 1993 label was considered pornographic by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and consequently bottles imported into the US contain a blank space in place of the offending image.

Nebuchadnezzar is the largest wine bottle and holds 15 litres or 120 glasses of wine.

Thomas Jefferson’s salary was $25,000 per year - a princely sum, but the expenses were also great. In 1801 Jefferson spent $6,500 for provisions and groceries, $2,700 for servants (some of whom were liveried), $500 for Lewis’s salary, and $3,000 for wine.”

High-quality dry table wines has about roughly 600 to 800 grapes per bottle, which may be about eight bunches of grapes per bottle or about five bottles from a healthy grapevine. (Dessert wines, using shriveled grapes for their concentrated juice, will have even more.)

According to Irish Folklore the Irish believe that fairies are extremely fond of good wine. The proof of the assertion is that in the olden days royalty would leave a keg of wine out for them at night. Sure enough, it was always gone in the morning.

“Still wine” does not come from a still. The phrase refers to wine without bubbles, which includes what is also referred to as table wine.

There are about 400 species of oak, though only about 20 are used in making oak barrels. Of the trees that are used, only 5% is suitable for making high grade wine barrels. The average age of a French oak tree harvested for use in wine barrels is 170 years!

One of the weirdest grape names is the Portuguese white Borrado das Moscas, translated as fly droppings. The acidic Portuguese red grape Esgana Căo runs a close second, it translates to dog strangler. Come to think of it, the Portuguese red Bastardo name is also expressive, and needs no translation.

Most popular varietals in Napa Valley (in order of popularity)

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Chardonnay
  3. Merlot
  4. Sauvignon Blanc
  5. Pinot Noir
  6. Zinfandel


The bill for a celebration party for the 55 drafters of the US Constitution was for 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 8 bottles of whiskey, 22 bottles of port, 8 bottles of hard cider, 12 beers and seven bowls of alcohol punch large enough that "ducks could swim in them."

In the 1600's thermometers were filled with brandy instead of mercury.

The longest recorded champagne cork flight was 177 feet and 9 inches, four feet from level ground at Woodbury Vineyards in New York State.

In ancient Babylon, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead (fermented honey beverage) he could drink for a month after the wedding. Because their calendar was lunar or moon-based, this period of free mead was called the "honey month," or what we now call the "honeymoon."

The 19th century American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, mentions wine over three hundred times in his writings.

Ideal serving temperature for wine:

- Whites: chilled (45-55 degrees F).
- Reds: slightly cooler than room temperature (about 65 degrees)
- Sparkling Wine: thoroughly chilled.
- Dessert Wine: room temperature.

A decanter is used mainly to remove sediment from older red wines.  Also, it can be used to open up young red wines.  Otherwise, wine will “breathe” enough in your glass and decanting is not necessary.

Manischewitz wine is a sweet style of kosher wine from the American Concord grape, the same grape that we use to make juice and jelly. 

The Manhattan cocktail (whiskey and sweet vermouth) was invented by Winston Churchill's mother.

In 1880, California’s first Commissioner of Agriculture brought cuttings from France to California.  He sent his first wine from his vines to the Gran Prix in Paris where it won top honors in 1889.

A European Economic Community law states that if a vineyard is abandoned for eight years, it must revert to nature and may no longer be used for winemaking or any other commercial purpose.

The cost of wine is not an indicator of quality as there are many factors that have an effect on the price of a wine.

Grapes are not grown from seeds because they start out as blossoms that are fertilized from the pollen of another vine.  If the vine is a different grape type, then the seed will be the “offspring” of both vines.  Cuttings are more predictable when you are trying to get the same type of grape each time you harvest.

The seeds and skin of the grape contain tannins.  Tannin is a bitter tasting substance that cause the “dry mouth” feeling associated with some red wines. 

In the United States, the regional growing areas are called American Viticulture Areas (AVA).  When you see AVA on a wine label, then you know that 85 percent of the contents have come from that area.  New AVAs are designated all the time.

The wine label will tell you the class of the wine.  For example, table wine, sparkling wine, fruit wine or aperitif wine. 

The famous Chateau Petrus in Pomerol makes the world’s most expensive Merlot, which sells up to $2,500 or more.

Meritage wines must blend at least two of the Bordeaux wine varieties.  No single variety can make up more than 90 percent of the wine blend.

A wine’s label will be marked with an O or a U inside of a P if the wine is kosher.  This is the sign that the wine has been approved by the world’s largest kosher certification organization.

Table wines have alcohol content between 7 and 14 percent by volume.

When a food and wine pair well together they have synergy.  This can cause a third flavor that is different than the food and drink consumed separately.

The cost of French oak barrel is approximately $600-$850.

The cost of an American oak barrel is approximately $300-$550.

Year grapes first planted in Napa Valley—1838 (by George Yount)

First large winery built in Napa Valley after Prohibition—Robert Mondavi (1966) (Louis Martini Winery was built in 1933 just prior to the end of Prohibition)

Prunes were Napa Valley’s largest crop before grapes.

Many people assume that when a wine oxidizes that it turns to vinegar.  Actually, the wine takes on a nutty flavor.  Thanks to pasteurization, wine very rarely turns to vinegar.

If a dry wine is fully fermented, about 40 percent of the sugar will be converted to carbon dioxide while 60 percent will be converted to alcohol.

Largest corporate owner of vineyards in Napa Valley—Diageo (British corporation)

Number of cases of Napa Valley wine produced annually—9.2 million (2006)

The percentage of U.S. wine made in California is around 90%.

An oak barrel is used for approximately 5-8 years.

California, New York and Florida  are the top three U.S. states in terms of wine consumption.

To prevent a sparkling wine from foaming out of the glass, pour an ounce, which will settle quickly. Pouring the remainder of the serving into this starter will not foam as much.

According to local legend, the great French white Burgundy, Corton-Charlemagne, owes its existence, not to the emperor Charlemagne, but to his wife. The red wines of Corton stained his white beard so messily that she persuaded him to plant vines that would produce white wines. Charlemagne ordered white grapes to be planted. Thus: Corton-Charlemagne!

The “top five” chateau of Bordeaux, according to the 1855 Classification, were actually only four: Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Margaux and Haut-Brion. In the only change to that historic classification, Mouton-Rothschild was added in 1973.

Grapevines cannot reproduce reliably from seed. To cultivate a particular grape variety, grafting (a plant version of cloning) is used.

Number of vineyard acres in Napa County (2008)—45,158 (out of a total of 485,120 acres in the entire county)—only 9% of total land area consisting of 400 wineries.

First winery built in Napa Valley after Prohibition—Stony Hill (1951)

“Cold maceration” means putting the grapes in a refrigerated environment for several days before starting fermentation to encourage color extraction. This is being done more and more frequently with Pinot Noir since the skins of this varietal don’t have as much pigmentation as other red varietals.

Frenchman Georges de Latour came to America in the late 1800’s to prospect for gold. He didn’t find much gold, but he founded a truly golden winery: Beaulieu Vineyard.

Mycoderma bacteria convert ethyl alcohol into acetic acid, thus turning wine into vinegar.

Bettino Ricasoli, founder of Brolio, is credited with having created the original recipe for Chianti, combining two red grapes (Sangiovese and Canaiolo) with two white grapes (Malvasia and Trebbiano). Today the better Chiantis have little or no white grapes in them and may contain some Cabernet. They are thus deeper in color and flavor and more age worthy.

“AOC” stands for “Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée”. The French system of classifying its wines is relatively recent compared to the centuries that vines have been cultivated in the country.

Largest private owner of vineyards in Napa Valley—Andrew Beckstoffer (Beckstoffer Vineyards, St. Helena)

From 1970 until the late 1980s, sales and consumption of wine in the United States held a ratio of about 75% white to 25% red. At the turn of the Millennium, the ratio is closer to 50-50.

Grape skins will rise to the top of the fermenting must and will form a “cap.”  This cap needs to be broken down and mixed back in with the must.  When there is more extract forced from the skins, the wine will be a big and highly tannic wine.

In ancient Rome bits of toast were floated in goblets of wine. There is a story that a wealthy man threw a lavish party in which the public bath was filled with wine. Beautiful young women were invited to swim in it. When asked his opinion of the wine, one guest responded: “I like it very much, but I prefer the toast.” (Referring, presumably, to the women)

“Cuvée” means “vat” or “tank.” It is used to refer to a particular batch or blend.

Wine is often called the nectar of the gods, but Sangiovese is the only grape named after a god. Sangiovese means “blood of Jove.”

Egg whites, bull’s blood, and gelatin have all been used as fining agents to remove suspended particles from wine before bottling. Egg whites are still commonly used.

“Brix” is the term used to designate the percentage of sugar in the grapes before fermentation. For example, 23° brix will be converted by yeast to 12.5% alcohol, more or less, depending on the conversion efficiency of the strain of yeast used.

In describing wine, the term “hot” refers to a high level of alcohol, leaving a hot, sometimes burning sensation.

Percentage of California wine made in Napa Valley—4%

Fiasco [fee-YAHS-koh]; - Italian for “flask.” The word is most often connected with the squat, round-bottomed, straw-covered bottle containing cheaper wine from the Chianti region. The straw covering not only helps the bottle sit upright, but protects the thin, fragile glass. Fiaschi are seldom seen today as the cost of hand-wrapping each flask for cheaper wines has become prohibitive, and the more expensive wines with aging potential need bottles that can be lain on their sides.

As early as 4000 BC, the Egyptians were the first people to use corks as stoppers.

Market research shows that most people buy a particular wine either because they recognize the brand name or they are attracted by the packaging.

California produces approximately 77% of the U.S. wine grape crop

An Italian white wine called Est! Est! Est! got its name from a medieval story. A bishop was planning to travel the Italian countryside and asked his scout to find inns that had good wines, marking the door “Est” (“It is” or “This is it”) when he found one. The scout was so excited about the local wine found in the area that he marked one inn’s door “Est! Est! Est!”

The auger or curly metal part of a corkscrew is sometimes called a worm.

Although “château” means castle, it may also be a mansion or a little house next to a vineyard that meets the requirements for winemaking with storage facilities on its property.

In the production of port, the crushed grapes are fermented for about two days. Then the fermentation is halted by the addition of a neutral distilled spirit or brandy. This raises the alcohol level and retains some of the grapes’ natural sugar.




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