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.
Fun, Weird & Random Facts About Wine
- Oenophobia (fear of wine) is real
- Wine, wine, it's good for your heart
- The world's oldest bottle of wine dates back to 325 BC
- And you can actually see it on display in Europe
- During Prohibition, grape juice sales skyrocketed
- Not all wines are vegan
- Sorry, guys, but women make for better tasters
- France once had a cocaine wine
- There's a reason for toasting
- Some French winemakers used to put lead in their wine
- The word "wine" has a unique history
- The world's largest wine bottle is called "Maximus"
- The ancient Greeks used to add seawater to their wine
- People actually buy wine over $300,000
- In the 17th century, French nobility would spice-up their wine
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.
RELATED: A Wine Lover’s Guide To Spending 3 Days in Rome
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.
RELATED: Step-By-Step Guide to Tasting Wine Like a Pro
Sorry, guys, but women 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.
Some French winemakers used to put lead in their wine
Picture the scene: France in the 16th and 17th centuries, where winemakers were on a quest to make their wines taste better. They stumbled upon a secret ingredient that transformed their ordinary vintages into sweet, velvety delights – lead.
These innovative vintners would add lead to their wine barrels, which would dissolve into the wine, imparting a luscious sweetness that captivated the taste buds. It seemed like a stroke of genius. However, this seemingly magical trick came with a hidden danger.
As more people indulged in these sweetened wines, a silent epidemic began to spread – lead poisoning. Symptoms included a dull grey complexion, crippling abdominal pain, and a lingering metallic taste in the mouth. Wine drinkers, oblivious to the risks, unwittingly consumed the toxic concoction, leading to widespread illness.
The word “wine” has a unique history
Imagine a time long ago, when the word “wine” was first uttered by our ancestors. Derived from the Proto-Indo-European word “win-o,” which means “friend,” wine has been a cherished companion to humankind for millennia. For at least 8,000 years, this delightful beverage has been intertwined with our history, helping us forge bonds and celebrate life’s special moments.
The world’s largest wine bottle is called “Maximus”
Meet Maximus Winus Bottlus, an awe-inspiring wine bottle that has etched its name into the annals of history. With a colossal 13cm-thick glass and standing over 4 feet tall, this extraordinary bottle holds an impressive 490 liters of wine, equivalent to a staggering 654 regular-sized bottles. Crafted by Swiss engineers, this magnificent container was unveiled in 2014, showcasing the limitless possibilities of human ingenuity. But Maximus Winus Bottlus wasn’t just created to make a statement; it was auctioned off to benefit a world hunger charity, demonstrating how our passion for wine can be channeled into making a positive difference in the world.
The ancient Greeks used to add seawater to their wine
In ancient Greece, an intriguing concoction called “posca” was quite popular. Wine was mixed with seawater to create this unique beverage, which was believed to offer health benefits. Not only did it serve as a thirst-quencher for athletes, but it also provided essential minerals and electrolytes, thanks to the seawater content. The Greeks valued posca for its invigorating properties and its ability to keep them hydrated during their strenuous physical activities, making it an essential part of their athletic culture.
People actually buy wine over $300,000
The world of wine is no stranger to jaw-dropping price tags, but the record-breaking sale of a 1947 French Bordeaux takes the cake. In 2010, this exceptional bottle changed hands for a staggering $300,000 at an auction, making it the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold. This remarkable vintage is renowned for its unparalleled quality and rarity, as it hails from a year when the region experienced near-perfect growing conditions.
In the 17th century, French nobility would spice-up their wine
In the opulent world of 17th-century French nobility, a spiced wine called “hypocras” gained immense popularity. Infused with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and an array of other herbs, this exquisite beverage captivated the palates of the upper class. Hypocras was not only prized for its delightful taste but also for its purported medicinal properties, which made it a sought-after elixir among the elite.
Drinking hypocras was a symbol of wealth and sophistication, as the exotic spices and ingredients used in its preparation were often expensive and hard to come by. As a result, this luxurious drink became an integral part of the aristocratic lifestyle, showcasing the refined tastes and elegance of French nobility. The legacy of hypocras serves as a fascinating glimpse into the world of high society during a time when wine played a central role in the art of living well.
Do you know any other interesting wine facts? Share in the comments section below.