Taylor Eason

Conversation Pieces: A compendium of useless yet mildly interesting wine facts

Holiday parties – especially those with crappy food and drink – can really suck. But, like a bird that strategically aims its business at a clean car, a carefully plopped comment can make anyone raise an eyebrow or chuckle to liven the mood. I've compiled a list of completely geeky, useless wine facts to drop on unsuspecting bores, if only to entertain yourself.

♦ Studies have shown that the more you know about wine, the better experience you will have with it. In brain experiments while consuming the juice, experts showed activity in the frontal cortex – where memory and emotion are processed – while the laymen did not. Moral: drink more wine, and you too can have increased brain activity.

♦ Two out of three bottles of wine sold in the U.S. are from California. This further proves the fact that Made in America remains a strong sentiment.

♦ There are over 6,700 bonded wineries in the United States – and apparently growing by the day in no-longer-so-scenic Napa Valley. Can anyone say Disneyland?

♦ Every state in our nation produces wine... including Hawaii (3 wineries) and Alaska (4)

♦ Vineyard land in Napa Valley now goes for $185,000 an acre, with prime locations selling for over $200,000. And you thought land prices in your neighborhood were ridiculous.

♦ The newest, hottest trend (out of Australia) is wine in a can. Try to think of vending machines without shivering with anticipation.

♦ The United Kingdom is the largest importer of American wines, with other big markets including the Netherlands, Germany, France, Ireland and Denmark. So the Brits do love the Yanks sometimes. Huh.

♦ The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is the country's leading buyer of wine. More Blackstone Merlot than I know what to do with.

♦ In 2004, red wine edged out white wine sales for the first time in recent history. The health benefit report has been heard, ladies and gentlemen.

♦ Slovenia is purported to have the oldest grapevine in the world, at 400 years. The Zametovka vine still produces 77 to 121 pounds of grapes per year, enough to make 100 eight-ounce bottles.

♦ Lightly chilling a red wine will make it taste less astringent and tannic. If you serve it around 65 degrees – the original "room temperature" – the wine will taste more balanced than when served at 78 degrees, the current version of room temperature.

♦ The cork oak tree takes 30-35 years before a sapling can produce a stopper thick and consistent enough for wine. And, like a tourist, it prefers sunny, mild climates.

♦ The wire cage on a Champagne bottle is called a "muselet," and comes from the French word "to muzzle." Hmmm.

♦ White wine gets red wine stains out, if poured on the spot immediately after a spill. I've tried it, it works.

♦ My favorite drinking toasts:

"To lying, cheating, stealing and drinking – may you lie to save your brother, may you cheat death, may you steal someone's heart and may you drink with me."

"Friendship's the wine of life. Let's drink of it and to it." More toasts

Happy partying.

Looking for interesting, unique wine gifts for the holidays? Visit my online shop for wine aerators, bronze wine sculptures, wine purses (featured on Oprah) and many different wine carriers.

Wine reviews

Bogle 2008 Merlot

Heron 2009 Pinot Noir California


Dec. 1, 2010

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