Have you ever felt at a loss, trying to think of something to say in a discussion about wine with friends?  Here are a collection of bizarre or unlikely facts about vines and wines.  Now you will have enough information to amaze them by dropping one or two into the conversation.

  1. Wine grapes rank number one among the world’s fruit crops in terms of acres planted.

  2. USA is the largest market for wine in the world – but it is only fourth on the list of largest producers.  So we are obviously drinking more than our fair share!

  3. So where are all these imports coming from?  The top three imported wine brands sold in the U.S. are Yellowtail (Australia), Cavit (Italy), and Concha y Toro (Chile).

  4. But which country drinks the most wine per person?  It’s The Vatican, with 74 liters (about 99 bottles) per head per year

  5. Amongst the thousands of grape varieties, just 35 varieties represent two thirds of world grape production.  The leaders are now Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Changing fashion has knocked a fairly obscure variety called Airén (grown only in Spain, and used mainly for distilling into brandy) off the top spot.

  6. California grows more Chardonnay grapes than any other place in the world. It has been the most successful white grape in the state, and it is also the top selling varietal in the United States.

  7. The yeast that lives on grape skins is so active that it can cause fermentation to produce wine automatically. But these yeasts do not usually make good wine, so modern winemakers generally add selected yeasts to the fermentation process.

  8. When grapes are pressed, almost all produce a clear juice.  Red wines are made by leaving the pressed juice on the red skins to absorb the color.  The only grapes which produce red juice are called “teinteurier” (dye maker) – they include Alicante Bouschet and some clones of Gamay.

  9. Eiswein (ice wine) is produced using grapes left on the vine until winter.  When they naturally freeze, they are picked rapidly (often at night) and then are pressed very gently to extract a concentrated juice.  These days, some winemakers try to achieve a similar effect by freezing grapes in a chiller before pressing. 

  10. A Nebuchadnezzar is an outside champagne bottle containing the equivalent of 20 standard bottles.  As it weighs over 90lb when full, it is normally poured using a tilting bottle holder.

Robin Hall

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