Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pour Some Wine, Then Impress your Friends with Fun Wine Facts

Don't consider it showing off - consider it sharing information you have with a eager and soon to be thankful audience.  The next time you pour one of these wines (or any wine for that matter), bedazzle with a little wine trivia that your audience will soon be sharing with others like they knew it all along!  So as you pour... quote one of these "Did you know" gems and sit back and wait for the praise (at a minimum) and applause (an excellent possibility):


Wines from this wonderful region in the Southern Rhone have very interesting aromas and flavors including the herbs and spices that grow in the region. Grenache is the star red grape in this region.

Le Crib du Pope
"Did you know": The literal translation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, "the Pope's new house."  For a period of about 67 years, starting from 1309, the papal enclave was moved from Rome to Avignon in France. The Popes of Avignon built a summer home (palace more like) to chillax Pope-style and hence the name of the region today.

Another region in the Rhone Valley in France, Côte-Rôtie are Syrah based wines that are typically quite expensive, and can be a powerhouse of a wine.

The Slopes
"Did you know": Côte-Rôtie literally translates to "roasted slope" and refers to the many hours of sun exposure the steep slopes in the region receive.

Popping the cork on a bottle of Champagne... let the fun facts fly!

"Did you know": The word Champagne roughly translates to "open country," a region full of more fields than forest and hills.

"Did you know": A bottle of bubbly contains about 44 million bubbles. Don't believe me - check it out for yourself!

"Did you know": Dom Pérignon, a French Benedictine monk is often credited with being the inventor of Champagne. He was in fact the Benedictine Abbey cellar master, and helped further refine the process to produce sparkling wine. The legend likely started from an advertisement in the 1800s by the producer of Dom Pérignon, that may have hinted that the legendary Dom Pérignon actually invented Champagne.

"Did you know": You can buy a REALLY big bottle of Champagne. Having a really big party - the largest bottle is called a Melchizedek, and is the equivalent of 40 regular (750 ml) bottles of champagne.  If you don't need that much bubbly, you can go for the Nebuchadnezzar which in equivalent to ONLY 20 bottles!  Half as big, but twice as fun to say!

German Riesling

The many names of quality German Riesling denote the ripeness of the grapes at harvest.

"Did you know": Spätlese translates to “late picked.” These grapes are picked later than grapes that go into Kabinett Riesling.

"Did you know": Beerenauslese translates to “berry select”.  Grapes are harvested berry by berry, picking only the botrytis-affected fruit.

"Did you know": Trockenbeerenauslese translates to “dried berry select”.  Botrytis-affected grapes are harvested after they have shriveled grapes and have been heavily affected by the botrytis. 

Although available from various spots around the world, the greatest Gewürztraminer grapes vines are found on the slopes of the Vosgnes Mountains, in France’s Alsace region. 

"Did you know": Gewürztraminer's translation includes the prefix (Gewürz) which means ‘spice’, and its suffix (Traminer) refers to the Traminer grape, which was first grown around the northern Italian town of Tramin. 

Valpolicella, Italy

"Did you know": The name of this wine region literally translates to the "valley of many cellars." I like it!
The Roman Empire
Sure, the ancient Romans loved to party, but...

"Did you know":  Wine may have been a contributing factor to the fall of the Roman empire?  To make wine for the rich and ruling class, Ancient Romans boiled unfermented grape juice in lead pots. The resulting syrup was added to lower quality wines and then sold to the rich and famous.  One teaspoon of this syrup could have caused Lead poisoning, which can lead to brain damage, infertility, learning & behaviors disorders - among other things.  

Not all historians agree, but lead poisoning could have caused some of the behavior among the ruling class that ultimately led to the fall of an empire.

"Did you know":  The tradition of a celebratory “toast” began with the ancient Romans, who would put a piece of spiced, toasted bread into their wine in order to absorb its unpleasant tastes and some of the excessive acidity. 

Know some other fun wine trivia? Share with us in the comments below!

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