December 1, 2020

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From toasts to Titanic: Things you never knew about wine

3 min read

If you’re a sucker for trivia, here are some weird things you might never have known about wine. 

1. The oldest preserved bottle of wine is nearly 1,700 years old. It dates back to 325AD and is on display in a museum in Speyer, Germany.

Titanic
Bottles claiming to be from the Titanic sometimes appear at auctions, but the ship’s huge wine collection remains mostly undisturbed on the ocean floor. Image: Adobe Stock

2. The wreck of the Titanic holds the oldest wine cellar in the world. Despite the wreckage and the depth, the bottles are still intact.

3. The dark green wine bottle was invented in England by Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665). Previously wine was kept in goat skin bags.

wine red
The green wine bottle dates back to the 1600s. Green bottles also help to prevent oxidisation, since red wines are often left to age. Image: Adobe Stock

4. The custom of “drinking to one’s health” started in ancient Greece, where the host always drank the first cup of wine to show his guests that he did not intend to poison them. 

5. The tradition of toasting was born in ancient Rome where they used to bump glasses to makes the drink spill from one cup to the other to make sure no-one as trying to poison anyone else. 

6. Ancient Romans believed that seasoning was more important than the main flavour of wine. They often added fermented fish sauce, usually made from fish guts, as well as garlic, absinthe and even lead.

7. In ancient Rome it was forbidden for women to drink wine. If a husband found his wife drinking wine he would be allowed by law to kill her.

8. The smell of young wine is called an “aroma” while a more mature wine offers a more subtle “bouquet”.

wine woman
Women have a keener sense of smell than men and so the theory is they also make better wine tasters. Image: Adobe Stock

9. Since wine tasting is essentially wine smelling, women tend to be better wine tasters because women typically have a better sense of smell than men.

10. Not all wines improve with age. In fact, 90% of wines should be consumed within a year of production.

11. The average age of a French oak tree harvested for use in creating wine barrels is 170 years.

12. There are 10,000 varieties of wine grapes that exist worldwide.

champagne
Chill your bubbly faster by adding salt to the ice in the bucket. Adobe: Stock

13. European wines are mainly named after their geographic locations while non-European wines are named after different grape varieties.

14. Italy has a free, 24-hour wine fountain. The fountain was installed in Ortona, Abruzzo, an Italian town south of Rome that is known for its red Montepulciano wine grapes.

15. Putting ice and salt in a bucket will chill white wine or Champagne faster. 

16. Oenophobia is a fear or an intense hatred of wine. 

Pronouncing ‘Moet’ correctly is a must if you consider yourself a wine aficionado. Image: Adobe Stock

17. Chilling tones down the sweetness of wine. If a red wine becomes too warm it may lose some of its fruity flavour.

18. All wine is stored at the same temperature, regardless of its colour. But reds and whites are consumed at completely different temperatures.

19. There is more alcohol in most mouthwash than in wine. 

20. You pronounce the “t” in Moët & Chandon Champagne, as in “Moo-wet”.