10 Surprising Facts About Wine



Are you a wine buff? A bon vivant, oenophile, and connoisseur of all things grape? If so, you’re probably a walking encyclopaedia of wine-related knowledge. However, there are a few lesser-known facts that may surprise you. Here are the top 10 surprising facts about wine. 

The World’s Oldest Bottle of Wine Is Around 1,650 Years Old

The Speyer wine bottle holds the record for the world’s oldest wine. Excavated from a Roman tomb in Speyer, Germany, in 1867, this relic now resides in Germany’s Historical Museum of the Palatinate. According to researchers, although the liquid inside is no longer alcoholic, it is still (probably) safe to drink - however, it won’t taste very nice. 

Not All Wine Is Vegan

When you think of a beverage made predominantly from grapes, you probably assume it’s suitable for vegans - not necessarily so. Although it’s more common for modern wines to be vegan-friendly, traditional winemaking uses animal-derived products as fining agents, including gelatin, casein (a milk protein), egg albumin and isinglass (a substance derived from fish swim-bladders). Always check the bottle, vegans! 

Not All Wines Improve With Age

A common misconception of wine is that it improves with age, and while this is definitely true of some varieties, only 1% of wine improves after 5-10 years. The vast majority of wines are intended to be consumed within five years of bottling. Wine varieties with lengthy ageing potentials include Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Burgundy Pinot Noir. 

Toasting Is An Ancient Practice

It is difficult to say when the concept of clinking glasses and saying “cheers” first arose in history. While the word “toast” itself, referring to the addition of scorched bread to inferior wine, dates back to Shakespeare’s *The Merry Wives of Windsor, *this tradition can be traced back to the Roman Empire. Another interesting theory is that toasts date back to 500–700 BC Georgia as prayers for health and prosperity. 

Ancient Roman Women Were Forbidden From Drinking Wine 

Due to the paternalistic society of ancient Rome, not only were women forbidden from owning their own property or controlling their own finances, but they were also instructed to abstain from drinking wine. If a husband were to catch his wife drinking wine, he was legally permitted to inflict the death penalty. 

Wine Contains Antioxidants

It is common knowledge that wine, in moderation, can promote a healthy heart - but how? Antioxidants known as polyphenols help to protect the body’s tissues against oxidative stress, possibly reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some varieties of cancer. Darker grapes are higher in antioxidants, making red wine the better choice for a healthy heart. 

The Ancient Greeks Dedicated A God Of Wine

The official Greek God of wine and pleasure was known as Dionysus, named Bacchus by the Romans. Originally the Greek God of fertility, Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele and a remarkably unique character in Greek mythology. Worshipped regularly in Athens, the ancient Greeks would pay tribute to Dionysus with trance-like dancing and drunken camaraderie. 

You Can Study To Become A Master Sommelier 

A sommelier or wine steward is a qualified wine professional. Prospective sommeliers require a qualification, such as a professional certificate by the Worldwide Sommelier Association (WSA). There are four recognised sommelier levels: Beginner, Certified, Advanced and Master. To obtain the title of Master, you’ll need to complete a range of modules, including theory, practical tasting, and practical service.

Women Are Better Wine Tasters

According to studies, women are naturally better at tasting wine than men. A study conducted by the Technical University of Madrid and published in *Food Quality *found that although male participants displayed stronger emotional reactions to wine, female participants demonstrated more discerning palates. Perhaps they should’ve conducted this study in ancient Rome. 

Smell Is More Important Than Taste For Wine Tasting

Although it’s in the name - wine tasting - your sense of smell is arguably more important for detecting aromas and conveying information regarding taste to the brain. Around 80% of what we commonly consider taste, in fact, comes from our sense of smell. This is why you’ll see wine tasters eagerly sniffing their sample before tasting it - to get information from more than 300 different organic chemical compounds.