21 Things you didn’t know about wine!

Bet you didn’t know THAT about wine….


Wine can intimidate and confuse and there is no real need for this. Drinking wine has been around for a long time (see below) and can be too steeped in tradition and formalities at times. As with most traditions in our society, they are based in superstition more so than fact and the perceived “snootiness” of wine does not help to attract new wine drinkers.

That said, there are lots of confusing and/or interesting facts that might be fun to learn. Maybe we can remove the shroud of mystery that envelops wine and learn some interesting facts about the best thing you can put in your glass…wine.


  • Vegan: While a lot of wine is Vegan, it would surprise you to know that a lot of wine is filtered through gelatin and other animal products. So, if you are a vegan, remember to read the label first.
  • Italy- There is a fountain that dispenses wine, and yes, it is free. This is Italy after all.
  • Toasting- The Romans started the practice of dropping actual pieces of toast in their glasses of wine. This was to help with the excessive acidity that was common in early versions of wine-making.
  • The oldest bottle of wine has been traced back to 325 A.D. You can go see (not taste) the bottle which is on display in a museum in Germany.
  • Sense of smell- Sommeliers like myself can tell you that the sense of smell is the most important process involved in tasting and evaluating wine. What is interesting is physically, women are better at tasting and evaluating wine than men. This is due to their heightened sense of smell.
  • Oenophobia – The fear of wine. This is truly a fear that I have no idea how to begin to understand. How can you not want to feel that luscious Bordeaux slide warmly down the back of your throat like a velvet butterfly is beyond my comprehension.
  • Bubbles- In ancient Greece it was thought that the bubbles in wine were from the phases of the moon reacting to the wine, and was also blamed on evil spirits.
  • Wine Barrels- Why are they so expensive? The average age of a French oak tree that is used in making the most common wine barrel in Europe is 170 years old.
  • Sex- A recent survey shows that drinkers of 1-2 glasses of wine a day are shown to have better sex than those who do not drink wine at all. So I say…drink up!
  • There are around 10,000 varieties of wine grapes. A Grand Master Sommelier must know and understand each of them as well as where the grapes would grow.
  • The Declaration of Independence was toasted with some Madeira wine that was imported for the King’s presumed visit. When he canceled his trip, the founding fathers thought it
    appropriate to use the wine that was meant for the King of England as a worthy wine to toast with.
  • Abraham Lincoln had a liquor license. Obtained in 1833, he obtained it to sell French Brandy.
  • Grafting- The Phylloxera outbreak was deadly to the European wine industry. The process of grafting vines that were resistant to the disease onto the diseased rootstock was the only thing that saved the wine industry. The grafting process is still commonly used.
  • Napa was known for prunes before being known for wine.
  • Resveritol is a chemical found in red wine that is shown to reduce heart attacks and acts as a free-radical remover.
  • Wine deteriorates when oxygen hits it, yet it is the introduction of oxygen to the wine which gets the wine in the most enjoyable and recommended tasting profile. It is a delicate balance between too much air and not enough air. That is why everyone should aerate their wines properly with a good, quality wine aerator.
  • A new planting of wine will take 3-5 years to produce the fruit needed to harvest for wine. This is an expensive wait for the prospective winery owner and is another reason that wine startup companies are expensive to own.
  • Prohibition- some wineries were able to survive prohibition by making sacrament wine for churches. Of course, the output for this sacrament wine exceeded 1200% of needed production for churches. I wonder what they could have possibly done with all that excess wine?
  • One Glass of wine needs a cluster of grapes to produce enough juice to fill the glass. This is about 75 grapes per glass.
  • One Bottle= 750 ml, 2.4 lbs of grapes, and will pour 4 full glasses of wine
  • Sizes- more than just the 750 ml you’d buy at your favorite wine shop.
    • Standard bottle, Magnum (2 bottles), Jeroboam (4 bottles), Rehoboam (6 bottles), Methuselah (8 bottles) Salmanazar (12 bottles), Balthazar (16 bottles) and the gigantic Nebuchadnezzar (20 bottles) which is so heavy 2 people need to carry it.



Eric Leckey

Sommelier, WSET 3, CSW

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