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Wine Facts and Trivia – What do you Know about Grapes?

It’s always great to be able to share an interesting story or fact with your friends and family while you are enjoying a bottle of wine or having a wine conversation. Don’t find yourself without wine information; here are some interesting wine facts that are great for sharing.

  • If you want to get a taste of “grapey” wines, try a Manischewitz. This wine is a sweet style of kosher wine from the American Concord grape. The same grape that we use to make juice and jelly.
  • 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.
  • The German Gewurztraminer, pronounced “guh-VURTS-trah-mee-ner,” is similar to the White Zinfandel and chances are if you like White Zinfandel, you will enjoy a German Gewurtztraminer. It is a fragrant white wine with a bit of sweetness.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Table wines have an alcohol content between 7 and 14 percent by volume.
  • 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.
  • The famous Chateau Petrus in Pomerol makes the world’s most expensive Merlot, which sells up to $2,500 or more.
  • Muscadine is not a variation of Muscat, in fact, it is a grape family native to the Southern United States and is commonly table grapes for eating and only a small amount are used for wine.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sweetness and fruitiness are often confused. Often a wine label will describe a sweet wine as fruity.
  • 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.
  • 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 wine is not an indicator of quality as there are many factors that have an effect on the price of a wine.

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