There are few things as satisfying as a glass of wine in some good company. And what better way to engage with your friends than with a few interesting facts about wine?
Wine has been many people’s beverage of choice for centuries, and if you’re a wine-lover, you’ll understand why. Below are 37 interesting facts about wine that’ll blow you away. Be sure to brush up on your interesting facts about grapes before you jump in.
1. The Oldest Known Winery Dates Back to 4100 BCE
The over 6,000-year-old wine-production facility was discovered in 2007 in Armenia. Archaeologists found fermentation jars and a wine press in a cave near the village of Areni.
2. The Phoenicians Were Responsible for the Spread of Wine Throughout the Mediterranean
The Phoenicians were an ancient civilization based in what is today known as Lebanon. They’re said to have played a major role in the spread of knowledge about winemaking and cultivation to the ancient Greeks and Romans.
These skilled winemakers thus played a significant role in the growth of the wine-producing regions in Europe.
3. The Ancient Greeks & Romans Loved Wine So Much; They Thanked the Gods For It
The Greeks thanked the god of wine and ecstasy, Dionysus, for this tasty juice. While Romans thanked the wine deity, Bacchus, for this perfect beverage.
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4. Wine Used to Be Healthier to Drink Than Water
Water was much more susceptible to going off or garnering bacteria, which was especially worrying for sailors going on long trips across the ocean. In contrast, the fermentation process and alcohol content in wine reduce the chances of bacteria formation in the beverage.
This meant that wine was safer to take onboard than water, making one rethink the “drunken sailor” trope.
5. Women Were Banned From Drinking Wine in Ancient Times
Several written sources suggest that women were briefly forbidden to drink wine in Ancient Roman times. On a darker note, the husband was even said to be allowed to murder his wife if he found her consuming this drink. This may have had roots in paternalistic ideals.
6. The World’s Longest-Running Winery Can Be Found in Germany
The Staffelter Hof winery was established over 1,150 years ago in a small town named Kröv in the country of Germany. This makes it one of the longest-running wineries in the world — that we know of.
7. The Oldest Unopened Bottle of Wine Dates Back to ~325 C.E.
The 50.07-ounce bottle was found in a nobleman’s tomb near the German city of Speyer. The Römerwein aus Speyer (as it’s known in German) is housed at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Germany. The contents sit in a clear glass bottle and look quite unsightly, but some scientists say it may still be safe to drink.
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8. People Used to Carry Wine in Animal Hide or Bladders
Some of the earliest known vessels for carrying and storing wine was in wineskins — made from things like goatskin or bladders. The Egyptians invented amphorae (wax-lined ceramic containers) for this purpose, which the Romans and Greeks also came to use. The invention of the glass wine bottle shape you know today is credited to Sir Kenelm Digby.
9. There Are 11 Different Sizes of Wine Bottles
The largest wine bottle is called the ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ and holds a whopping 4 gallons of wine. The smallest wine bottle is called a Piccolo or Split and contains a single serving of wine at 6.03 ounces.
10. There’s a Reason Why Wine Glasses Are Shaped Like That
Wine glasses don’t simply have a stem so they can look fancy. You’re meant to hold a wine glass at the stem as the heat of your hand may warm up the temperature of the wine and influence its flavor.
The wine glass also has a distinct ‘tulip’ or tapered shape to trap the aromas (fragrance) in the glass — so you can appreciate the aroma along with the flavor.
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11. Wine Connoisseurs Never Fill the Glass More Than a Third of the Way
It may be tempting to top up your glass to the brim, but wine experts recommend never filling your glass more than a third of the way. This is to allow the wine aromas enough space to collect in the glass. This also gives you ample space to safely swirl the wine around and release the aromas.
12. Corked Bottles Are Always Stored Laying Down
In order to prevent the cork from drying out, letting air in, and falling into the wine bottle, corked bottles are never stored upright. The contact between the wine and the cork keeps the cork swollen and secure, which prevents air from entering.
13. Some People Have a Fear of Wine
As phobias go, they may seem odd to the average person. But some people have a genuine wine phobia and are called Oenophobes. This fear may have its roots in genetics or previous bad experiences with the beverage.
14. Wine Lovers or Connoisseurs Are Called Oenophiles
In contrast to Oenophobes, if you love wine, you can proudly call yourself an Oenophile. ‘Oinos’ is the Greek word for wine. While ‘phile’ has French and Medieval Latin roots and means “one that loves.”
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15. The Top 3 Most Significant Wine Producers Are All in Europe
The three biggest global producers of wine are Italy, France, and Spain. Other prominent wine-producing locations include the United States — with much of the wine being produced in sunny California — and stunning Argentina.
Some popular wine regions across the world include Stellenbosch in South Africa, Mclaren Vale in South Australia, Montepulciano in Italy, Santorini in Greece and Portugal. North America also has a strong wine industry including lesser known areas such as Livermore, Charlottesville and Wolfville in Nova Scotia, Canada.
16. Romans May Have Drank Themselves to Their Own Downfall
There are many warnings against overconsumption of this beverage in early texts like the Bible. But it wasn’t merely the overconsumption of wine that was dangerous. Romans were said to mix lead into their grape-derived drinks for a boost of sweetness. Some historians speculate that lead poisoning may have played a role in the eventual fall of the Roman Empire.
17. Good Hosts Drink First
In ancient Greece, it was common practice for the host to take the first sip of a bottle of wine. This was to ensure that the wine was not poisonous and thus safe to drink. So, next time you host a party, be sure to show your guests that you have no intention of poisoning them by taking the first sip.
18. Red Grapes Are More Versatile For Wine
Red wine can’t be made from green grapes. But some white wines can be made from the darker blue and purple-skinned grapes, as the skin is separated from the grape.
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19. Each Wine Has an Ideal Serving Temperature
As a general rule of thumb, white wines should be served between 40-54°F. Red wines should be served at temperatures ranging between 50-65°F. Lower temperatures tend to help emphasize elements like bitterness and acidity. Higher temperatures minimize this, which is why it’s preferred for more robust flavored wines.
Sparkling wines are also best served at lower temperatures, as it slows the bubbling process and prevents the drink from being too frothy.
20. Wine Has Great Health Benefits
When consumed without additions like lead, wine can, in fact, have a positive impact on your health. Studies suggest that moderate consumption of wine — especially the red kind — can help reduce the risk of heart disease and increase your life expectancy. So, if you’re in the habit of ending your day with a glass of red, you can confidently say you’re doing your heart a favor.
21. Wine Is More Complex Than Blood Serums
There are so many organic chemical compounds in wine that it’s said to be more complex than blood serum.
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22. Red Wine Contains More Antioxidants Than White Wine
White wines are fermented without the skins, stems, and seeds, while red wine is fermented with all these elements. This means red wines are richer in plant compounds like tannins and resveratrol, which are said to have many positive health benefits.
White wine simply has fewer of these compounds. So you won’t entirely be missing out on the health benefits if you prefer white wine.
23. Wine Has More Antioxidants than Fruit
In fact, you’d have to consume about 20 glasses of apple juice or seven glasses of orange juice to gain as many antioxidants as you’d get in wine.
24. Grapes Are One of the Most Planted Fruit Crops in the World
There are about 150 trillion pounds of grapes produced on over 29,000 square miles of land every year. This makes it one of the most cultivated fruits globally, ranking among other fruits like tomatoes, bananas, and watermelons.
25. Sweet or ‘Dessert’ Wine is Made From Rotten Grapes
Dessert and sweet wines are made from grapes that have higher sugar content. One way of achieving this higher content is by giving the vines a fungal infection named ‘botrytis.’ This infection produces “Noble Rot” grapes, which are sweeter and used to make wines like German Riesling and Sauternes from Bordeaux.
Another way to create sweeter grapes is to let them freeze over, in colder climates, before picking them. This creates ‘ice wine,’ which is syrupy sweet.
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26. The Climate Affects the Wine’s Taste
Grapes that grow in warmer climates usually have more chance to ripen, giving it more opportunity to produce sugars. This type of grapes makes for stronger, sweeter wines. In contrast, grapes grown in cooler climates tend to produce more acidic wines as they don’t get as much opportunity to ripen.
There are four tasting elements to look for when sampling wine: acidity, sweetness, tannins, and alcohol content.
27. All Champagne Is Sparkling Wine, yet Not All Sparkling Wine Can Be Called Champagne
You may have heard this fact already. But, for the wine newbies, this is an important thing to keep in mind. You can only call sparkling wine Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region in France.
28. Sparkling Wine Only Becomes Sparkling After It’s Bottled
Surprisingly, sparkling wine isn’t bottled with bubbles. A liqueur de tirage (combination of wine, yeast, and sugar) is added to every bottle of wine during the bottling stage. This mixture causes a secondary alcoholic fermentation, at which stage the bubbles form over a 12 to 15-month period.
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29. The Pressure in a Champagne Bottle Is Larger Than the Pressure in a Car’s Tires
A bottle of champagne can hold up to three times the pressure of a car tire, which is why the cork tends to fly off at such a rapid speed. The warmer the champagne, the more pressure there is in the bottle, and the faster the cork will fly. Corks can fly up to 50 miles/ hour.
30. There Are Over 10,000 Varieties of Wine Grapes
But only around 1,300 of those varieties are commonly used to produce commercial wine. Some of the most popular varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, and Cabernet Franc.
31. You Won’t Find Wine Grapes in the Grocery Store
While there are plenty of varieties of wine grapes, they’re rarely sold at the general grocery store. So, if you wanted to make your own homemade wine with proper winemaking grapes, you’d likely have to get them from a wine farm.
32. People in Portugal Consume the Most Wine Per Capita
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33. ‘Vintage’ Wine Isn’t As Fancy As It Sounds
You may think vintage wines are wines that have been aged for years or decades. But, vintage wine is actually just wine that is produced with grapes harvested in the same year. ‘Non-vintage’ wines are produced from grapes harvested in several different years. Some of the biggest wine producers produce ‘non-vintage’ wines.
34. Most Wines Aren’t Meant to Be Aged
There is a common perception that wine improves with age, but about 90% of wines are best consumed within five years of bottling. Most wines taste their best when they’re sold, as they’ve likely already been aged for a certain period to enhance the flavors.
35. You Get ‘Old World’ and ‘New World’ Wine
This probably sounds a bit odd, but these phrases are simply used to refer to the continental origin of the wine. Wines that come from Europe and the Middle East are referred to as ‘Old World’ wines. ‘New World’ wines come from Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas.
36. Many Wines Aren’t Vegetarian or Vegan
Although wine is made from fruit, many wines are produced with fining agents derived from animals. These include casein (from milk), egg albumen, gelatine, and isinglass (made from fish).
37. Certain Wines Go Better With Certain Foods
In general, heavier, more flavorful wines go with richer meals, while lighter wines go with lighter meals. Red wines also work best with red meats, while white wines work well with chicken or fish. And, you may have guessed it, dessert wines go best with dessert.