Lori Zaino

Fun, Weird Facts You Didn’t Know About Wine

Everyone loves to relax with a glass of wine, but you may not realize there’s a whole slew of weird, fun curiosities about the drink. After all, the history of wine dates back thousands of years and spans pretty much the entire world. So read on to find out some interesting tidbits about wine — then you’ll be able to impress your friends with some cool information over your next shared bottle of Bordeaux.

Oenophobia (fear of wine) is real

Clearly, none of us here at Winetraveler have this phobia and we’re willing to bet our readers don’t either, but you never know. The world comes from the Greek language, where oeno means wine and phobia means fear. We wonder if there’s a phobia for when you run out of wine and all the stores are closed? 

Wine, wine, it’s good for your heart

Does a glass a day really keep the doctor away? It seems so. Although the effects of wine on the heart are still being researched, studies show that the antioxidants in wine can help prevent coronary artery disease and increase high density lipoproteins (the ‘good’ kind of cholesterol). It also may lower your risk of having a stroke. Of course, wine in moderation is the best way to reap the benefits, though, so stick to one glass a day if you’re drinking for health reasons.

The world’s oldest bottle of wine dates back to 325 BC

Unearthed in a Roman tomb, the world’s (known) oldest bottle of wine was excavated in 1867. 

And you can actually see it on display in Europe

This 1,693-year old bottle of wine can be found in Germany’s Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany. Don’t get your hopes up about tasting this ‘vintage’ variety, though — not only does the museum refuse to open it, but they also don’t even want to handle the bottle for fear of dropping or breaking it. 

During Prohibition, grape juice sales skyrocketed

California grape growers increased their cultivation by 700% during the first five years of Prohibition. Grape concentrate was sold with a ‘warning’ label, stating, “After dissolving the brick in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for twenty-one days, because then it would turn into wine.” We don’t have any statistics on how many juice purchasers actually followed/didn’t follow those instructions, but we can guess. 

Not all wines are vegan

If you want a vegan wine, you’ll have to search for one specifically, because all wines aren’t naturally vegan, or even vegetarian. Many producers use fining agents to stabilize their wine — typically things like casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg whites), isinglass (fish bladder protein) and gelatin (animal protein). While these are mainly processed out, there still may be traces left in the wine. But hey, vegans, don’t get too upset. Many eco-friendly wines are using new fining agents, like activated charcoal instead, so there is hope for the future.

Sorry, guys, but woman make for better tasters

It’s just a general rule of thumb, but women typically have a better sense of smell than men, making them better tasters. Don’t shoot the messenger!

France once had a cocaine wine

Back in 1863, Vin Mariani wasn’t your average French wine brand. The concoction was made from mixing six milligrams of coca leaves for each ounce of Bordeaux wine. The suggested intake was two to three glasses per day, but only one to two for children. The drink was a huge hit and went beyond Paris — to London and even to New York. Apparently Vin Mariani was a favorite of Presidents William McKinley and Ulysses S. Grant, Queen Victoria of England, actress Sarah Bernhardt and even the Pope Leo XIII. Once narcotics laws became stricter in the early 1900s, though, this wine became illegal. 

There’s a reason for toasting

Toasting started in ancient Rome — but not by clinking glasses. Instead, the Romans would drop toasted or burnt bread into their wine to soften the taste of very acidic or unsavory wine.

Do you know any other interesting wine facts? Share in the comments section below.

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Lori Zaino
Lori Zaino is a freelance travel, food, fashion and wine writer based in Madrid. You can likely find her on a plane jetting off to an exotic destination, eating tapas or sipping a glass of Rioja wine.
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