Following your curiosity about wine can take you down many rabbit-holes. The more you learn, the more you realize you don't know. This endlessly intriguing subject is fun to explore from surface level to in-depth and everything in between. Wet your palate with these fun and interesting facts about wine.
Wine History Facts
With a long and rich history, there is a lot to learn about the origins of wine, grape varietals, and winemaking techniques.
- The first cultivated vines are known to be in Georgia during 7000-5000 BCE.
- Archaeologists uncovered a wine press and fermentation vessels in a small Armenian village, which they believe to be the site of the oldest winery, dating back to 4100 BCE.
- Ancient Greek culture was heavily influenced by wine, with Dionysus known as the god of the grape-harvest.
- Greek wines were often infused with herbs, spices, and honey.
- The Romans started to industrial wine-growing in Italy, employing slaves in vineyards.
- The Gauls invented wooden barrels to keep wine in.
- By the 4th century CE, there were vines planted in what is now known as Champagne.
- In the Middle Ages, churches and monasteries produced the bulk of wines available.
- The first wines were bottled in the 17th century when there was new glassmaking technology.
- The infamous pest, phylloxera, was first discovered in French vineyards in 1866.
- In 1880, at least 80% of the Italian population relied on the booming wine industry for a living.
Facts About Grapes, Vines, & Vineyards
From the anatomy of a grape to the life-cycle of a vine, the grape-growing process is nuanced.
- Grape juice is high in tartaric acid, which helps to keep wine bacteria-free and stable.
- Grape skins contain the bitter tannins, which provide structure to a wine and help to preserve it.
- Orange wines, or skin-contact wines, are made from white grapes that ferment and/or age on their skin, which imparts color.
- Though pinot gris is a white wine, the berry has a pink-blue-gray hued skin.
- Grapes are the most important commercially grown fruit in the world.
- Grape vines produce enough grapes for harvest in their third year.
- The majority of wine grapes are European vinifera grafted onto American rootstock.
- There are a known 10,000 grape varieties throughout the world.
- Rosé is made from dark-skinned grapes with limited contact with the skins.
- 'Old World' wines are from Europe and the Middle East, whereas 'New World' wines are from the Americas, Australasia, Africa, and Asia.
- There are 242 American Viticulture Area's (AVA's) in the U.S.
- Vines can live for more than 60 years.
Interesting Wine Tasting Facts
There are numerous pieces to deciphering a wine label and properly tasting and serving wine.
- Assessing the color and opacity is the first step in the tasting process.
- You actually smell the wine more than you taste it.
- Pairing sweet food with wine will make the wine seem more bitter and less fruity.
- Wine glasses are made to trap aromatic vapors and funnel them to your nose.
- A 'blend' means the grapes have been fermented separately and blended afterwards; a 'co-ferment' means the grapes have gone through fermentation together.
- The 'Demeter' certification means that the wine is certified biodynamic.
- NV stands for non-vintage, which means the wine is a blend of grapes from different years.
- A 'magnum' is the equivalent of two standard bottles of wine.
- Swirling your glass pushes oxygen through the wine so it releases aromas.
- The majority of wine isn't made to be aged; rather, it should be enjoyed within a year or two.
- 'Corked' wine smells and tastes like wet cardboard and mold.
- Red wine has more antioxidants than white wine.
- Acidic wines are very food-friendly.
- The 'Classico' in Chianti Classico indicates the wine is made with grapes grown in the historic center of the region.
Facts About Types of Wine
Get to know who's who on the wine shelf.
- Sauvignon blanc is New Zealand's signature grape.
- Chablis is made with Chardonnay grapes.
- Beaujolais Nouveau is released on the third Thursday in November each year.
- Grenache noir is the primary grape in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
- Cabernet sauvignon is the world's most widely planted grape.
- Pinot noir is known for expressing nuances of specific vineyard sites.
- Zinfandel and primitivo are the same grape.
- Riesling has naturally high acidity with pronounced fruit and floral aromas.
- Champagne may only be called so if the wine is grown, produced, and bottled in the Champagne region of France.
- Barolo is made from nebbiolo grapes.
- Sangiovese is Italy's most widely planted grape.
- Sherry and port are fortified wines, meaning they have additional alcohol.
- Sparkling wine gets its bubbles from carbon dioxide.