Wine Trivia: How Much Do You Know about Wine?

Wine trivia is fun! Enjoy these bits of trivia, some of which may surprise you. Then share your discoveries with your friends.

Wine Trivia

  • Vintners make most white wine from red grapes.1
  • As it ages white wine gets darker. But red wine gets lighter as it ages.2
  • Poor soil tends to produce better wines than fertile soil (“the worse it is, the better it is”).3
  • The average number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine is 736. But that can vary widely depending on things like grape variety, condition when picked. For example, plump berries from rain or small ones from a dry growing season.4
  • wine triviaThere are about forty-nine million (49,000,000) bubbles in a bottle of Champagne.5
  • The largest cork tree in the world (the Whistler) is in Portugal. It averages over one ton of raw cork per harvest every nine yeas. That’s enough to cork 100,000 bottles.6
  • Corks need a corkscrew. M.L. Byrn of New York City patented one in 1860.7
  • People still sometimes crush grapes by walking on them (‘foot treading’). They typically do so in producing a small quantity of the most expensive port wines.8
  • British wine isn’t the same thing as English wine. British wine is made from imported grape juice concentrate. English wine is made from grapes grown in England. And Welch wine is from Wales-grown grapes9
  • The total alcohol content of a typical glass of table wine, can of beer, or spirits liquor drink are virtually identical. To a breathalyzer they’re all the same.10
  • wine triviaWine has about the same number of calories as the same amount of grape juice.11
  • The wine with the fewest calories is one that is dry and has low alcohol content.

More Wine Trivia

There’s a difference between organic wine and wine made with organic grapes.

Wines labeled organic wine must be made with certified organically grown grapes. And they must have no organically prohibited substances (such as sulfites) added to the wine.

Because sulfites  naturally occur during fermentation, wine will normally contain them. But to be labeled organic, the content must below 20 parts per million.

A wine labeled made with organic grapes or made with organically grown grapes can include added sulfites. A wine can make the claim, ‘Sulfite Free’ or ‘ No Added Sulfites – Contains Naturally Occurring Sulfites.’ But if sulfites are added and they are above 10 parts per million, it must say, ‘Contains Sulfites.’

This is starting to get confusing. But there’s more.

A wine with Sulfite Free on its label must contain no detectable sulfites. However, there is debate whether it is possible for any wine to have no sulfite. Federal rules permit any organic category to ‘claim to be Sulfite Free or have No Added Sulfites. But the 100% Organic and Organic categories must meet one of these criteria. The Made with Organic Ingredients and Some Organic Ingredients categories may or may not have added sulfites.’12

Now we know. Or do we?

wine triviaCork hasn’t always sealed wine containers.

Greeks and Romans used a layer of olive oil. The French used oil-soaked rags to seal wine bottles.13  It wasn’t until the 1780s that corks came into common use to seal wine bottles. This made bottle aging possible.14

The French didn’t invent sparkling wine.

The English produced the first sparkling wine. The English imported still (non-sparkling)  from the Champagne region and stored it in cellars over the winter. There it underwent a secondary fermentation.

The English preferred bubbles in their wine. However, the French considered them to be an undesirable defect. They tried to prevent them.15

wine triviaIn spite of the popular myth, Dom Perignon didn’t invent sparkling wine. That myth began with ads published around the beginning of the 20th century for a Champagne company. That company produces, what else, Dom Perignon.

To take advantage of its popularity, Dom Perignon began to improve sparkling wine. He used strong bottles and developed a strong closure system. This helped contain the powerful buildup of pressure within the bottles. He also experimented with blending the contents.

However, it took another century of work by others to solve problems, especially that of bursting bottles.16 That’s not surprising. The pressure in a bottle of Champagne is as high 90 pounds per square inch. That’s about three times the pressure in automobile tires.17

Trivial note on wine trivia.

Trivia is the plural of the Latin word trivium. More than one wine trivium are wine trivia. So, “Vintners make most white wine from red grapes” is a wine trivium. But this collection is wine trivia. So, should it be “Wine trivia is fun!”? Or should it be “Wine trivia are fun!”?

For Fans of Wine Trivia

America’s Wine Trails

Quotes about Wine (270)

A Lesson in Wine Etiquette

Books for Wine Trivia Fans

Button, R. and Oliver, M. Wine – 101 Truths, Myths and Legends. Luton, Eng: Andrews, 2013.

Frost, A. Through a Sparkling Glass. An A-Z of the Wonderland of Wine. Richmond, Vic: Hardie, 2013.

Lock, J. Wine Wars. A Trivia Game for Wine Geeks and Wannabes. San Francisco: Chronicle, 2009.

Quinlan, E. et al. Wine Trivia. Boston: Quinlan, 1985.

Rosano, D. Wine Froth A Heady Collection of Wine Quips, Quotes, Tips and Trivia. Board & Bench, 2016.

References

1 McCarthy, E. and Ewing- Mulligan, M. Wine for Dummies. Foster City, CA: IDG Books, 1995, p. 359.

2  MacNeil, K. The Wine Bible. NY: Workman, 2001, p. 109.

3  McCarthy, E., and Ewing-Mulligan, M., p. 10.

4 Gerling, C. Cornell U Coll Ag Life Sci. Conversion Factors: From Vineyard to Bottle

5  Reidel, H. Sweet Spot. Buffalo News, July 1, 2001. Prial, F. J. A Flavorless and Clear Favorite. Vodka Surpasses Gin, Other Spirits in Popularity. Chicago Tribune, Aug 8, 2001, W6.

6  World’s Largest Cork Tree

7 History of the Corkscrew

8 Why Foot Treading?

9  English or Welsh but not “British”!  

10  Alcohol Equivalence

11  MacNeil, K. The Wine Bible. NY: Workman, 2001, p. 77.

12  Organic Consum Assn. Clearing Up the Confusion about Organic Wine

13  Prlewe, J. Wine From Grape to Glass. NY: Abbeville, 1999, p. 110.

14  Ford, G. Wines, Brews, & Spirits. San Francisco: WAG, 1996, p. 17.

15  Gately, I. Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol. NY: Gotham, 2008, pp. 137-138.

16 Younger, W. Gods, Men, and Wine. London: Wine and Food Soc, 1966, pp.345-346.

17  USA Today, Feb 22, 2002. Champagne pressure, nothing to play with.

For more wine trivia:

Alcohol Trivia

Trivia: Beverages – Ales to Zombies