7 Interesting & Fun Facts about Wine
Wine is incredibly complex and garners so much attention because, quite frankly, its earned it. Let’s take a look at some fun facts about wine to understand why so many people love wine.
#1 : Wine is a Living Thing
Probably one of the most important things that you should know about wine is that it is a living thing. It’s probably one of the wine facts you should know so that you can impress your wine friends when you mention it. It’s also good to keep in mind so that you can forgive the winemaker for a whole bottle of wine that may have corked.
In a very simple explanation, wine is just fermented grape juice. Fermentation occurs when the yeast/bacteria breaks down the sugars in the grape juice and releases CO2 and alcohol. Typically, once the sugars have been converted into alcohol, the creation of wine is complete. Oftentimes there is residual sugar, which means that the yeast can, in fact, continue to ferment the wine even in the bottle.
However, wine can still be manipulated in the barrel, the wine cellar, in the bottle, and in the glass. It is for this reason that many make the claim that wine is, in fact, a “living thing.”
Consider a familiar adage you’ve heard about wine and how it “gets better with age.” That’s due in part because of this ability to be manipulated over time. If wine is incorrectly stored–for example, in the trunk of your car on a hot day–it can drastically alter the way taste and structure of the wine.
Consider how we talk about wine too. One of the fun facts about red wine is that when wine glass of an older bottled is opened up, we say it needs to “breathe.” When examining the wine in the glass, we often note the “legs” of the wine, which refers to the cascade of liquid against the glass after the wine has been swirled and sipped.
This is just the first of many fun facts about wine. Read on to add to your back pocket so that you can impress all your wine friends.
#2 : Wine is the Reason for Civilization
Naturally, there are several fun facts about wine history and a major one is that it is the reason for civilization. Isn’t that wild? Take a moment to let that sink in. Think about your parents, your parents’ parents, your parents’ parents’ parents, and on and on. They are here, we are all here, because of wine.
Yes, there are relationships and biology and love and time and work and travel and more that are part of that lineage, but wine is at the root. I’ll explain…
Wine cultivation is 8,000 years old, according to the discovery of 8,000-year-old empty wine bottles and jugs back in 2017. Wine gave groups of people a reason to come together, establish a settlement, and cultivate crops. Wine is also pretty easy to make when you break it down, and it could have very easily happened on accident.
All someone would’ve had to do is pick grapes, put them (whole cluster and all) into an earthenware jug, and forget about it. In two weeks, they’d have wine. The weight of the grape clusters would have crushed the grapes over time and the naturally occurring yeast on the grape skins would break down and ferment the grape juice into wine.
If you read my post titled What is Natural Wine?, you would know that this style of wine making is natural wine (also known as low intervention wines). There are no additives, no dyes, no commercial yeasts, and no junk to manipulate the wine in any way. Natural wine making is as ancient as wine itself.
#3 : The Oldest Wine in the World was Found in Georgia
The country, not the American state. That’s where they found those 8,000-old-jugs used for winemaking. It’s not surprising to find evidence of wine making in areas so close to the Mediterranean and the Fertile Crescent.
Georgia is also the birthplace of orange wine. No, they don’t make wine with oranges. Orange wine refers to the process of allowing the skins of white wine grapes to ferment with the juice.
This process often imparts an orange hue to the wine, hence the name “orange wine.” It is also called “skin contact” wine. It makes total sense that this style of wine is so ancient because it’s one less step winemakers have to take when making white wine.
We love a good orange wine and we love it so much that we made our own Orange Chenin Blanc. Don’t worry, if you’re not crazy about orange wine, we also offer a traditional Chenin Blanc.
#4 : There are over 10,000 Grape Varietals in the World
Wow! Just when I thought I had a handle on my wine knowledge, I learn that there is truly so much that I don’t know. However, that’s really what makes the wine world so fascinating and enticing.
There are so many grape varietals, styles, regions and wine makers that will take a lifetime to learn about and experience. I’m here for it.
#5 : You Nose Matters Most
We’ve all seen a wine-o approach a glass of wine. They pick it up, look at it in the light, swirl it around, SMELL IT, take a sip, swirl it around in their mouth, and spit it out (sometimes). I know that I only spit it out if I’m doing a lot of wine tasting in a day. Sometimes drink wine because it’s just too good to spit out. I digress.
The most important part of that sequence is smelling the wine. I know, I know. It seems like it should be when the wine-o actually drinks the wine, but in fact, the nose knows best. Our olfactory senses are responsible for 80% of what we taste!
In fact, researcher Andreas Keller of Rockefeller University recently published in the Smithsonian Magazine that humans have around 400 receptors in the nostrils, which helps us distinguish between ONE TRILLION (with a T) different scents. Truly amazing.
Just think about when you’re sick and your nose is stuffed up. Everything you eat tastes like nothing, and you’re really only eating to keep your energy up. You may not even have an appetite because, well, you can’t smell!
So, while it can be tempting to roll your eyes at the wine-o for taking a long time to drink their glass of wine, consider that they are simply trying to taste as much of the wine as possible.
It took a year of growing and probably several months in barrel before it was bottled up for them to try it. Wine is meant to be savored so don’t hesitate to take a couple sniffs before you sip.
#6 : The Most Recent AVA is the San Luis Obispo Coast
With all the beautiful wine that comes out of California, it is no surprise that new regions are being designated as an official AVA or “American Viticulture Area.” According to Decanter Magazine, the San Luis Obispo Coast was added on March 9, 2022, and now joins the ranks of Napa Valley, Calistoga, Sonoma Coast, Santa Ynez Valley, and the almost 150 AVAs in California.
#7 : 1.1 Billion Gallons of Wine was Drunk in 2021
Yes, that’s “Billion” with a B. That’s 3.18 gallons (17 bottles) per US resident…and that doesn’t even count me because I was pregnant for most of 2021! According to the Wine Institute, the national average had been slowly rising in the last decade, and it continues to rise.
Honestly, I’m tickled that wine consumption has been on the rise. There has been a growing love for wine (natural wines especially), and it’s an interesting trend to follow. I’m curious what the 2022 average will be…
How fun was that? I love sharing little nuggets of information that I pick up about wine. Truthfully, there are enough quirky wine facts to publish a “daily wine facts” newsletter, but I simply don’t have the time for that.
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About the Author
Cleo de la Torre is the owner of Más Allá Wines. She is also a mother and former high school English teacher. She taught for several years before she and her husband, Jordan, took a wild leap into the wine world. She loves wine and its rich history, and much of that love is explored and explained through her blog. Questions, comments or concerns? You can reach Cleo here.