Wine

Public Domain painting by Jan Steen 1600s

In 2007, UCLA archaeologists found what appears to be a winery located in an Armenian cave that dates back to 4100 BCE. It contained grapevine remnants, drinking vessels, a wine press, and pottery jars for storage. 

However, no one knows when wine was first invented. Many researchers think that it dates back to 6000 BCE. Art, archaeological digs, and writings show us that many civilizations used wine in ceremonies, religion, special occasions, medicinally, and in the home. 

 

In the 1500s, Wine production was attempted in Florida, Virginia, and Canada in the 1600s, but Spanish missions are responsible for bringing grapevines to California in the 1700s, which was the beginning of America’s wine industry. By 1805, they established Sonoma’s first winery. The Californian wine industry skyrocketed in the 1800s due to the Gold Rush and Europe’s phylloxera problem. Phylloxera is microscopic bugs that eat grapevine roots. So for many decades, Europe could not produce wine. Wine sales spiked again in the 1990s because craft microbrews were taking over the alcohol market and the wine industry wanted to compete. Up until then, your wine choices at a restaurant were simply Burgundy, Chablis, or rosé, but in the 1990s restaurants were offering up to one hundred bottles of wine on their menus. 

 

 

Top Things About Wine

No one knows when wine was first invented. 

 

Wine is made from fermented fruit. The most popular fruit used is grapes. 

 

Even though there are over 10,000 varieties of grapes in the world, only around 300 are used for commercial wine. 

 

Juice from all grapes is clear. It’s the skins that give it color. 

 

France and America are the top producers of wine, and all fifty U.S. states make wine. 

 

Appellation means where (geographically) the grapes were grown. 

 

Vintage means what year the grapes were harvested. 

 

It takes about 600 grapes to make a bottle of wine, and there are 50 million bubbles in a bottle of champagne. 

 

On Thanksgiving, Americans drink more wine than on any other day of the year. 

 

The most popular cocktails made with wine include French 75, Sangria, Champagne Cocktail, Wine Spritzer, Kir, Kir Royale, Mulled Wine, Americano, Martini, and Manhattan. 

 

 

Types Of Wine

Red Wine

Red wine is made from black grapes. Black grapes have a reddish-bluish color. The grape skins are used during production. To make pink-colored wines like rosé and white Zinfandel, the skins are left on for a little bit then discarded. Popular commercial red grapes are Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Beaujolais. 

 

White Wine

White wine is made from grapes that appear light green. White wine can also be made from black grapes if the skins aren’t used. Popular commercial white grapes are Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. 

 

Fortified Wine

“Fortified” means ingredients such as sugar, brandy, herbs, or botanicals have been added to the wine. These include sherry, port, Madeira, and vermouths. The first three are often referred to as dessert wines. 

 

Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wine is the number-one alcoholic beverage used to celebrate occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries. Just like Post-it notes, Super Glue, and penicillin, sparkling wine is a result of a happy accident. 

 

Northern France (Champagne region) has a short growing season, and during the winter, fermentation would stop inside the wine bottles. As spring approached, the temperature rose, fermentation started again, and the bottles of wine would burst. A French Bénédictine monk named Dom Pérignon spent most of his adult life—until he died in 1715—trying to figure out a way to stop the bubbles. 

 

By the early 1800s, the House of Veuve Clicquot (which was run by a woman) worked out a lot of champagne’s issues by using thicker bottles, better corks, and riddling (getting out the sentiment in the bottom of the bottle). Countries such as Italy, Spain, and the United States. thereafter began putting the word “champagne” on their sparkling wine labels, which sparked the Champagne Wars. In 1919, laws were passed mandating that only champagne produced in the Champagne region of France could use the word “champagne” on its label. Today, Italy labels its sparkling wine as “prosecco”; Spain labels it as cava, and the United States just uses the term “sparkling wine.”

 

 

Wine Words To Know

Blend

A blend of different wines. 

 

Body

Weight and fullness of a wine, which you can discern when you have it in your mouth. 

 

Bordeaux

The area in Southwest France that is considered one of the best wine-producing regions in the world. 

 

Brut

French for “dry.” 

 

Demi-sec

French term meaning “half dry.” 

 

Finish

The taste in your mouth after swallowing wine. 

 

Sulfites

A natural by-product of the wine fermentation process. 

 

Tannin

Grape skins contain tannins, and the taste is dry or astringent like a strong cup of tea. 

 

Varietal

The main grape the wine is made from.

 

Vintage

The year the grapes were harvested. 

 

 

Fun Wine Facts

Champagne comes in eight bottle sizes. The largest is called Nebuchadnezzar and is equal to twenty standard 750 ml bottles. 

 

In 1863, French chemist Angelo Mariani infused Bordeaux wine with three types of coca leaves in the bottle and called it Vin Tonique Mariani. Two ounces contained twelve milligrams of cocaine. It was technically sold as a medicine that worked as an appetite suppressant, stomach stimulant, and helped with depression. It won a Vatican Gold Medal after Pope Saint Pius X and Pope Leo XIII endorsed it. In addition, it is believed that there were over 7,000 endorsements written by physicians. In 1884, John Pemberton from Atlanta, Georgia, replaced the wine with cola extract and soda and Coca-Cola was born. 

 

During the American Prohibition, grape juice concentrate was sold with instructions for how not to let it ferment—basically, telling consumers how to make wine at home. 

 

James Bond may be known for Vodka Martinis, but in the novels and films, he drinks Champagne more than any alcohol. 

 

If a wine bottle is corked with real cork, then store the bottle on its side so the cork does not dry out. 

 

Be careful when opening a bottle of champagne and never point the cork at a person or a brea.k.a.ble object, because the cork can come out at 100 mph. 

 

Madeira is mentioned in William Shakespeare’s play Henry IV, Part One when Falstaff is accused of trading his soul for a chicken leg and a chalice of Madeira. 

 

In 2004, the hit independent film Sideways had bartenders’ tongues turning sideways saying Pinot Noir one hundred times a night. 

 

Every third week in November, you can consume a sense of unity with the world by drinking the same wine—at the same time—with your global brothers and sisters. It is called “It’s Beaujolais Nouveau Time!” Beaujolais Nouveau (BOH-zoh-LAY NO-voo) is bottled six to eight weeks after harvest and is distributed around the world within a week. This allows the opportunity to share the experience. Look up at the moon while drinking and you will share two experiences at the same time. 

 

 

The world’s largest wine bottle is the sign for the Boondocks Lounge in Tucson, Arizona.

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