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A Winemaker's Journal

The World of Wine Gets Trivial

By Elias Fernandez

After more than 20 years as a winemaker, I’m still amazed at how much fun there is in the world of wine. Every week it seems that I read some new odd or fascinating fact about it – from the new archeological evidence about wine’s role in ancient cultures to the way wine is said to improve people’s health today.

This month I wanted to share with you some recent short wine items that have caught my attention. If you love wine trivia as much as I do, please visit a repository of more of this at:

Wine and Health

A new Italian study reports that a glass or two of wine per day may help slow the development of:

Researchers in Italy report that drinking red wine may help us get a better night’s sleep because:
The skin of grapes such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are rich in melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep patterns.
Daily Mail, UK

Researchers at the University of Michigan say antioxidants found in red wine may prevent what? Huh? What?
Hearing loss
Agence France-Presse

Italian researchers report that resveratrol, found in red wine, significantly reduces the number of deaths in mice who contracted what?
Seasonal flu

A study in Iceland concludes that moderate drinkers of red wine cut their risk of getting cataracts:
By 50%

According to a study in Australia, teetotalers are twice as likely as moderate drinkers to do what?
End up in a nursing home (and they spend more time in hospitals)
The Daily Telegraph (Sydney)

A luxury resort in the Ukraine is offering a medicinal mix of rosemary, sage and Cabernet to cure what ailment?

An Australian researcher advises professional tasters to avoid doing what on the morning of a wine competition?
Brush their teeth (the plaque actually spares the teeth from the wine’s acidity)
ABC Science Online (Australia)

According to French researchers red wine picks up potential cancer-fighting compounds from what?
Oak barrels


Wine and Weirdness

A vintner in Duluth, Minn., makes wine from what source?
Mashed army worms. (According a local newspaper it tastes like pinot grigio. Check it out:
Napa Valley Register

Apes in Budapest’s zoo drink their way through how much red wine each year?
55 liters (zookeepers say it’s good for the primate’s blood cells)

A sommelier in France recently made headlines for doing what?
Storing wine in a crate in the ocean

Earlier this year a vineyard in Tuscany yielded what unusual harvest?
The 33-foot long skeleton of a prehistoric whale
Quarterly Review of Wines

The fear of wine is called?

In Japan’s Katsunuma region, pig farmers produce what they believe is a higher quality of pork by offering their livestock:
A daily dose of white wine (the equivalent of about one glass) (China)

A winning bidder recently paid $6,000 for two empty bottles of what wine?
Chateau Picard bearing the vintage date 2267 (These were film props which appeared in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis, bearing the label of the family estate of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.)

True or false -- The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain?
False. Spain’s largest plain, La Mancha, is hot, drought-prone and produces white wines destined mainly for distillation.
The Belfast Telegraph

A zoo in Shanghai, China, is reported to be selling a $20 medicinal wine made from:
Tiger bones (The bones’ former owners are said to have died of old age or “accidents”)
Agence Presse France

Researchers in Italy found that the compound in red wine, resveratrol, when fed to fish extended their lifespan by 50 percent and did what else?
Made them more “vivacious swimmers”
The Oregonian

A career-advice website recently offered real-life examples of things to avoid doing in a job interview, such as one unsuccessful job seeker who:
Brought wine and offered a glass to the interviewer
The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, FL)


Wine and History

He was a sculptor, painter, architect, and inventor. But Leonardo da Vinci’s resume also includes:
Vineyard owner (His vines were located in what is now part of modern Milan.)
Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind, by Charles Nicholl

In 1985 Malcolm Forbes paid a record $156,000 for a bottle of wine believed to have been once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Recent research has unveiled what new detail about that bottle?
It’s a fake.
Palm Beach Post

After the Civil War, what state produced almost half the wine made in the U.S.?
Northwest Herald

The oldest winery in the Americas was established where in
in 1597?
The northern Mexico town of Parras de la Fuente – San Lorenzo Hacienda
Associated Press

Archaeologists working in northern China report finding evidence of wine made from rice, honey and fruit, that they say may date how far back?
9,000 years (If proven this would make China the world’s oldest winemaking country.)
USA Today

Old vine Zinfandel just got really old. One California winery offers a Zin that it claims come from vines that date back to:

What wine is believed to be the oldest in the world still in production?
Commandaria, a Cypriot dessert wine dating back 5,500 years and said to be a favorite of Egyptian pharaohs

Before this continent was called America in 1507, it had been given what other name by medieval European explorers?
Wineland (a.k.a. Vinland, by 10th century Norse explorers who were impressed by the abundance of wild grape vines)
The Vinland Sagas, translated by Magnus Magnusson, Hermann Palsson

In 1512 Pope Julius II convinced England’s King Henry VIII to join his “Holy League” against the French by sending the dinner-loving monarch a boatload of:
Italian wine and Parmesan cheese
Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, by Ross King

A Balthazar is a massive bottle that holds the equivalent of 1.25 cases of wine. Who is it named after?
One of the Wise Men who brought gifts to the infant Christ
Schott’s Food & Drink Miscellany

The first American Merlot was sold when?
The Wall St. Journal

In the Middle Ages Viking warriors would drink from the skulls of their conquered enemies, resulting in what modern Scandinavian toast?