by Angela Aiello
1. To become more aware of the wine you like and dislike, use these five easy steps to tasting wine: sight, swirl, smell, sip, and savour.
2. Learning how to smell and describe wine is very important because more than 80% of your ability to taste comes from your ability to smell!
3. Red and Rosé wines receive their colour from contact with grape skins. Although red wine can only be produced from red grapes, white wine can be produced from both white and red grapes.
4. There are approximately 20 million acres of grapes planted across the world; thanks to this number, grapes are ranked as the world’s number one fruit crop.
5. VQA stands for Vintners Quality Alliance. It is the stamp of approval that ensures 100% of the grapes and juice that went into making the wine you’re serving or buying are guaranteed to be from the province of Ontario.
6. On average, there are about 75 grapes in each cluster.
7. One grape cluster equals one glass of wine.
8. A glass of wine (about 4 oz.) contains about 85 calories.
9. You should only fill your wine glass about 1/3 of the way full to allow enough room for you to swirl, aerate, and smell your wine.
10. The first corkscrew was invented in the mid-1800s.
11. The world’s leading cork producer is Portugal.
12. When you’re prepping for a wine party, estimate for about ½-1 bottle per person, but make sure to serve responsibly and know who the DDs are!
13. If you airtight seal your wine in the fridge (red or white), it should last three-to-seven days. Icewine that is airtight sealed can last upwards of three months!
14. Syrah and Shiraz are from the same grape. The difference is in their style. Typically, Syrah is made from a cooler climate and Shiraz is made in a warmer climate, but they can be called whichever the winery chooses.
15. Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are also from the same grape. Pinot Grigio tends to be a lighter bodied wine meant for easy sipping and Pinot Gris has more of a medium body taste sometimes known for being more of a “serious” wine.
16. The vintage of a wine is the year the grapes were grown. Yes, there are good vintages and bad vintages, and every region is different.
17. The legs or tears of a wine are what crawl down the sides of your glass after you’ve swirled your wine and can tell you about the body of a wine. The quicker the legs run, the lighter the body; the slower they run, the fuller the body of the wine.
18. Humouring your wine is another word for “swirling” your wine (in a glass).
19. There are approximately 400 species of oak, but only 20 of them are used in making oak barrels.
20. A Nebuchadnezzar bottle holds 15 litres of wine – not only is that big, but it’s also a total of 20 bottles!
21. You can only call sparkling wine “Champagne” if it is made in the region of Champagne, France, otherwise it is known as sparkling wine, or wineries will give the wine a unique name.
22. Traditionally made sparkling wines are made with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier (although most tend to have just Pinot Noir and Chardonnay).
23. The shape of the original shallow and wide-mouthed Champagne or sparkling wine glass is known to be a tribute to the “breast” of Marie Antoinette, but the Greeks claim it is a tribute to Helen of Troy.
24. Decanting your red wines for an hour is the same as letting the wine age in a cellar for year. If you let them sit in the decanter for two hours, it is the same as two years and so on. Who needs patience?
25. Canadians are the #1 producers of Icewine in the world! From Vidal to Riesling to Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon – they all make great Icewine!
26. Icewine grapes get picked by hand in the middle of the night when the temperature has reached -8 for three nights in a row. And from every grape, you only get one drop of nectar per grape – hence the price tag on such a small bottle.
27. The country of Georgia is known as the “birthplace of wine.”
28. 1982 was a very well known vintage for Bordeaux Wines.
29. Traditional Bordeaux wines were made from a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Carmenere, and Malbec. Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the most popular blends in today’s market.
30. Sauvignon Blanc is most well known for aromas of fresh-cut grass – which is the perfect pair for spring veggies like fiddleheads, asparagus, and green salads.
31. Chardonnay is known as the “winemaker’s grape” because it is so versatile. It is used in sparkling wine, on its own, aged in oak or bottled as un-oaked, used in blended wines and can also make Icewine.
32. Muscat is a wine with a bit of sweetness that can also be called Moscato. Moscato D’asti is a bubbly sweet wine.
33. Rieslings are great to age in your cellar. Their backbone of acidity makes them the perfect bottle to lie down and open after 15 or 20+ years!
34. Malbec is a grape that is one of the originals of the Bordeaux blend from France. It is not a ‘new’ grape as some suspect, but Argentina has certainly claimed it as its signature red!
35. Pinotage is the signature red grape variety from South Africa. Although not easy to find, when you do find one you like, you’ll fall in love and share it with friends!
36. Gewurztraminer and Viognier are very aromatic wines with lots of floral and perfume aromas. These two are hits for many females – just in case you need a hint as to what to bring to or order on a date!
37. When you’re ordering wine at a restaurant, instead of flipping through the wine list and trying to figure out what you want to order, ask for the Sommelier and tell them what style of wine you’re looking for and what your budget is. You’ll look like a pro, and save time and money!
38. Zinfandel is the grape of California. It can make the pink zinfandel that made the California wine industry, and it can also make big, bold and full-bodied red wines. A must try!
39. An oak barrel can cost anywhere from $1000-$1500.
40. The Vidal grape is the most popular grape used for Icewine. It has strong skins that protect it from the harsh Canadian winters.
41. Beaujolais is an area in Burgundy, France, and the red grape that is grown in that area is Gamay. It is light and fruity and is a “red wine for the white wine drinker” because most of the wines are not aged in oak and are friendly on the palate.
42. There is a winery in every state in the USA.
43. Thomas Jefferson selected wine for the first five presidents.
44. White wine gets darker with age and red wine gets lighter with age.
45. When it comes to describing body of a wine, you could describe it as light, medium or full-bodied.
46. The word Meritage is said like ‘heritage,’ and means that the wine is a blend of Bordeaux grape varieties.
47. When pairing wine and food, always pair the weight of the wine with the weight of the food – when all else fails, pair local wines with local flavours!
48. Love Icewine, but never finish a whole bottle? Blend your Icewine with vodka and serve as a martini; it’s great for holidays and the perfect way to entertain guests.
49. Wine is such a great industry that celebrities like Francis Ford Coppola, Wayne Gretzky, Mike Weir, and Greg Norman among others have gotten involved all over the world!
50. Being confident about wine is a great business asset, life skill, and conversation piece! So start sipping!