Wine is a curious beverage. It’s just fermented grape juice, but it’s much more than that. History, culture, traditions, food pairings, geography, climate — the world of wine is all this and more.
So, where to start your path to wine knowledge? With wine facts, of course. Here is our wine facts trivia — see if you already know all these exciting wine facts.
The best part about wine is that the more you know about it, the more you enjoy it. Pour yourself a glass of wine and treat yourself to the following wine knowledge.
Wine Facts: The Global Market
- People make wine in over seventy countries, in a dozen wine styles, with hundreds of different grapes. Wine is the most varied beverage on the planet.
- Italy, France and Spain are the most important wine-producing countries in terms of volume. Together, they produce more wine than the following five countries on the list combined.
- The red wine grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo are the most planted varieties worldwide. As for white grapes, Chardonnay is the most planted wine grape, followed by the Spanish Airén and Sauvignon Blanc.
- As for consumption, the United States is the largest wine consuming country by sales, followed by France and Italy. The world average wine consumption per capita is 3.3 litres per year. The biggest wine consumers? In Portugal, people consume an average of 52 litres per year!
- Over 95% of all wine is meant to be enjoyed young, up to three years for white and rosé, and up to five years for red. Age-worthy wine that will evolve in time is rare.
Wine Facts: History of Wine
- People have been making wine for at least 5,000 years. Phoenicians, Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all enjoyed wine.
- Wine grapes come from Vitis vinifera vines, and they’re native to the Caucasus, now Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. The region between the Black Sea and the Caspian sea is the cradle of wine.
- The Ancient Greeks promoted viticulture and winemaking throughout the Mediterranean Basin. Still, the Romans took vines even further, from England and Portugal to Germany and the rest of the known world.
- Wine from diverse areas are regions began to show better quality. Eventually, wine laws were created to protect these wines with a sense of place (1936.) This is known as the appellation system, and it’s now used worldwide.
- Wine grape vines arrived in the Americas in the mid-1500s, in South Africa in 1679, and in Australia in 1787. Wine from these regions and countries became known as New World wine.
Wine Facts: Winemaking
- All grapes have a clear pulp and juice, even red grapes. To make red wine, winemakers taint the clear grape juice with the natural pigments in the grape skins. This is called maceration.
- A microscopic fungus is responsible for wine fermentation — a yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This is the same yeast used to make bread. And although cultured yeast is now common, yeast ferments any sugary liquid naturally — it’s everywhere, even on your skin.
- Yeast needs sugar to create alcohol. The more sugar in the grapes, the more alcoholic the wine. Grapes grown in warmer regions contain more sugar.
- What makes wine so appealing is its acidity, which comes from tart wine grapes. The colder the wine region, the tarter the fruit, and acidic wines pair best with food.
- Most quality red wines and a few white wines spend time in oak barrels, and the wood changes the wine’s colour, flavour, aroma and texture. Oak-aged wine is not necessarily better than unoaked wine, though.
Wine Facts: Food Pairings
- Red wines are best enjoyed with hearty food rich in protein and fat. Red meat is compatible with red wine, and white meat, including pork, seafood and poultry, is best suited for white wine. Of course, there are exceptions.
- Tannins are gritty particles in red wines that cause a drying sensation in the mouth. Tannic wines pair best with fatty food, and not all red wines are equally tannic.
- Pair wine and food by weight. Light food goes well with light-bodied wine, and rich and flavourful food calls for bold, full-bodied wines.
- Some grapes have unique scents and flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon is herbal, and Syrah peppery, for example. Sommeliers match these scents with food. Smoky wine with smoky food, and so on.
- Sparkling wine is the most versatile wine style for food and wine pairings. These wines are tart, so they can counter even the most intense flavours in food. Sparkling wine also comes in all sweetness levels, so there’s one for every occasion.
Wine Facts: Storage and Service
- Wine is delicate, and it needs to be stored in dark places away from direct sunlight, heat sources, vibration and excess humidity. Underground cellars and caves check all the right boxes for long-term wine storage.
- The best temperature to store wine is anywhere between 10°C (50°F) and 16°C (61°F). Service temperatures for red wine range from 10°C to 16°C. For white, anywhere from 4°C (39°F) and 10°C.
- Wine is best served in stemmed crystal wine glasses. Larger wine glasses are best suited for red wines, and smaller glasses are adequate for whites. Stemless wine glasses are in vogue, and they’re ideal for casual wine tastings.
- Decanting wine is a great way to expose it to air and make its aromatic compounds more volatile. Red wines smell fruitier, but white and rosé wines can also benefit from decanting.
- Always serve white wine before red wine and younger wine before older bottles. Serve dry wine before sweet wine and inexpensive wine before pricier bottles.
Wine Facts: Wine Tasting
- Wine tasting is a skill that can be learned and perfected through practice. Everyone can learn to taste wine with reasonable proficiency.
- The colour, scent and flavour in wine hint at the wine’s quality, origin and production method used. Proficient tasters can determine the wine’s varietal and vintage by taste alone.
- When tasting wine, look for sweetness, acidity, tannins and alcohol on the palate. On the nose, you can find dozens of different scents, from blackberries to chocolate, from leather to vanilla.
- Swirling wine in the glass makes it more aromatic as movement releases the aromatic compounds in the liquid, allowing the taster to pick up scents easier. Experts agree one must assess the wine before swirling it to pick up the faintest scents.
- Tasting wine is not the same as drinking it, but there’s a time and place for both. Tasting wine is exciting, but wine is meant to be shared and enjoyed with friends and family.
Now You Know; Wine is Awesome!
The world of wine is incredibly complex and learning about or favourite fermented juice is an authentic adventure.
Now that you successfully completed our wine facts trivia, you’re better prepared to tackle the sometimes-overwhelming amount of wine types out there. And that’s not all; this is just the beginning, a drop in the bucket. You can learn something new about wine every day! How cool is that?
What are your favourite wine facts? We’d love to know. Wine knowledge, by the way, just like wine, is meant to be shared, so share our wine facts trivia with your wine-loving friends!
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