Let’s forget appellations, residual sugar levels, and the Prädikat system for a minute and talk about something super important: you. Who are you?
What kind of wine drinker are you?
For comparison’s sake (and for a laugh), we’ve simmered down the essential traits of some popular fictional wine drinkers.
Which one of these characters most fits the bill for you?
Do you drink? Do you know things?
Tyrion Lannister – Game of Thrones (The Rogue)
The whole thing is a game anyways… isn’t it? Meet your match: The Imp – the Lannister’s brilliant but debauched intellectual schemer.
You’re the sort of person who always has a plan, a sharp comeback, and several bottles of the good stuff. Your smarts (and your attitude) have gotten you into trouble, but you always start with the best intentions. It’s true, you have a soft spot for the little guy… and, frankly, the opposite sex.
What’s in your glass?
A wine that matches your pizazz and contrarian nature is most likely a blend of three famous grapes: Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. The “GSM” or Rhône Blend (named after a Southern French wine region) is equal parts fruity and earthy, with the right amount of funk.
You’re passionate and knowledgeable (and had a little too much to drink).
Miles Raymond – Sideways (The Highbrow)
From the New World to the Old, when it comes to knowing wine, it’s hard to stump you. You love this beverage because it reflects the ethereal nature of life. Of course, very few others share your level of understanding and conversations can be a bit –shall we say– tiresome?
Once you get on a rant, it’s hard to stop you. After all, you can only hold out so long before speaking your mind. You carry yourself with as much dignity as possible, even though there are occasional rumors that you’ve been seen drinking from the spit bucket…
What’s in your glass?
Pinot Noir: The only grape just as finicky as you are but fantastic-when-done-right is Pinot Noir. This grape grows nearly everywhere, but you can name the best spots for it (in the world) on your fingers.
Your family may be dysfunctional, but you’re still Queen Bee.
Lucille Bluth – Arrested Development (The Matriarch)
You won’t be argued with, and you can’t be reasoned with. Your plebs – I mean “people”– simply don’t have the capacity to perform at your level.
If a few friends or family members get thrown in jail or lose a hand in the process (as was the case with Lucille Bluth), well, they probably weren’t listening to you, now were they? People might see you as stuck up and overbearing, but you can’t help it if you know what’s right.
What’s in your glass?
Dry Riesling: If there is ever a wine that cuts through the monotony of life (and sometimes the gnawing voices around you) it’s Riesling. Preferably dry and definitely from Germany or Austria. This wine has nerves, baby.
Youth is wasted on the young. Thankfully, there are pills for that.
Eddy & Patsy – Absolutely Fabulous (The Perpetual Dandy)
So what if they say your best years are behind you? You aim to live, and to live fabulously.
You don’t care what other people say: you’ve still got it. And you won’t hear anything to the contrary. For better or for worse.
What’s in your glass?
Prosecco: Technically you would have bought Champagne, but you blew your salary on a new age rejuvenation treatment. Fortunately, there is some fantastic Valdobbiadene Superiore that will do quite nicely.
Your tastes are strange… Oh, so strange.
Hannibal Lecter – Silence of the Lambs (The Outsider)
You accept nothing but the best. Other people just don’t understand your obsession with certain things. They can be charming right up ‘til they’re not. And yes, it has gotten you into some trouble in the past.
Still, as long as you follow a moral code, you’ll be okay. Right?
What’s in your glass?
Natural Wine: If there is one movement that tickles your taste for the strange it’s natural wine. Natural wine is the only wine that embellishes and honors the strange, rotten-but-not, fermentation aromas derived from wild yeasts. If natural wine is the oyster of the wine world, then you are hunting for pearls.
Jay Gatsby – Great Gatsby (The Socialite)
You weren’t born into the wine life: you adopted it with gusto. And while your reasons for getting into it are purely social, no one can deny that you’re the life of the party.
As far as you’re concerned, as long as there’s wine to be had and music to be played, your parties can go as long as they need to. Just try to avoid obsessing over other people’s wives, would you?
What’s in your glass?
Champagne, Barolo, and Sherry: Why would you ever relegate yourself to one wine? Champagne gets the party started, Barolo gets the mental juices flowing, and Sherry for when things get serious. After all, a socialite is prepared for any outcome (as long as it involves people!)
It’s no secret that city-dwelling sommeliers have a penchant for kitty-cats. Maybe it’s because they purr when you stay home to study wine. Or, maybe it’s because they act just as bipolar as you do when you drink. Either way, it’s perfectly fitting to name your cat after something wine-related.
Wine Names for Cats
Sphynx: Hairless, skinny, curious, and meant to be revered. Pinot (Noir): Dignified, fussy, delicious, and meant to be revered.
Bengal: Like a baby leopard. Rare. Expensive. Unusual. Champagne: Like your baby; the best, even if you can’t afford it.
Orange Tabby Cat: He’s fat and lazy, but loveable, like a lasagne-eating cartoon cat. Malo(lactic Fermentation): The process that makes the buttery, round, oaky Chardonnay that is always there for you.
Long-Haired Cat: It could be a small cat, but you can’t tell because of all that hair. Lees: Lees is a popular winemaking method that makes white wines richer and creamier.
Persian Cat: Dignified and ornamental, with a soft musical voice and All. That. Hair. Peluda (Garnacha): AKA “Hairy Grenache,” from the French pelut, meaning “furry.” Really.
Munchkin Cat: Small, sweet, people-pleasers, with larger than life personalities and stubby legs. Brix:Sugar metering system, perfect for a sweet, energetic little dude.
Scottish Fold Cat: Fuzzy, poofy and round, with owl-like faces. Merlot: In the new world, a lush warm hug of a wine, for your warm hug of a cat.
Ragamuffin Cat: Always friendly, and they have a tendency to overeat. Magnum Bottle: What’s better than one bottle of wine? Why, an even bigger bottle, of course.
Unico: “You-nee-ko.” One of Spain’s top Tempranillo producers. They’ve tamed a wild thing (the Tempranillo grape), and you can too.
MosCATo: As if you need a reason.
50 Interesting Wine Facts & Tips
50 INTERESTING WINE FACTS AND TIPS
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!
Wine vs. Health in 2019 (OMG We’re All Going To Die!)
Each year a fresh set of stories about wine and health is published. While we don’t like to admit it, most of these headlines are taken at face value:
“A glass of wine is worth an hour at the gym.”
“Extra glass of wine a day ‘will shorten your life by 30 minutes.'”
These are actual headlines.
Suddenly, more of us choose to drink wine instead of go to the gym. Or, in the latter example, more of us conclude that wine is a death sentence. Oh my!
Time to hit the brakes. Let’s look at the topic of wine and health and where we stand in 2019.
TLDR: Two new, reputable medical studies on wine and health use big data to show that moderate drinking is best – if you drink.
On Wine vs. Death
In 2019, life still comes with a 100% risk of death. So, the question is more about how much wine increases our basic risk of dropping dead at any moment.
(long awkward pause…)
Two studies came out last year looking at alcohol consumption by crunching many (hundreds) of cohort studies with big data-style statistical analysis.
The reason none of these studies are direct is because asking people to drink wine for science is unethical. (For shame, I tell you!)
The first study showed that if you’re over 40 and routinely drink two or more glasses of wine a day, your risk of death increases by 20%. Oh no!
Oddly enough, the study also showed a bizarre correlation among non-drinkers, ex-drinkers, and moderate drinkers (those drinking just one glass of wine a day). Those who drank one glass of wine a day had a lower risk than a non-drinker and an ex-drinker of dying.
(BTW, there were many possible reasons for this… check this chart image for more detail).
On Wine vs. Disease
The second study showed how drinking increases general risk of disease. It measured outcomes of 23 disease conditions (including things like breast cancer and tuberculosis) and their relationship to alcohol use.
The study is fancy (i.e. it’s very hard to read) and was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In fact, it was one of the most cited studies in 2018. The most damaging thing in the study states:
“Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none.”
But wait! When we look at the absolute risk of this study (shared by British Statistician, David Spiegelhalter) we can see that risk increase is not significant for moderate drinkers:
If you drink zero drinks per day, your absolute risk of developing a health problem is 0.914%.
If you drink one drink per day, your absolute risk of developing a health problem is 0.918% more (0.44% more than non-drinkers).
If you drink two drinks per day, your absolute risk of developing a health problem is 0.977% (7% more than non-drinkers).
If you drink five drinks per day (1 bottle of wine), your absolute risk of developing a health problem is 1.25% (37% more than non-drinkers).
So, the conclusion made in the Bill and Melinda Gates study seems a bit extreme. An increased risk of 0.44% for having one drink per day is insignificant.
That said, if you’re a health-policy maker, the numbers look much scarier at scale. On a country-wide level, you’re dealing with the risk (and cost) of alcohol abusers (those five drink per day-ers), along with everyone else. Let’s not forget drunk drivers and people who cause crimes of aggression while drinking.
(Yep, I know. They’re ruining it for the rest of us!)
The two recent studies using big data analytics showed that moderate drinking (one glass of wine a day–regardless of sex) has an insignificant level of risk associated with it.
We also learned that drinking a bottle of wine by yourself in a day is still a terrible idea.
What was annoying about these studies was that none of them separated wine drinkers from other alcoholic beverage drinkers. This is a problem because wine is often singled out in other studies due to how it performs differently – better – than other alcoholic drinks.
Final conclusion: If you want to be healthier, you might reduce your wine consumption to a glass of wine a day.
Any good wine snob knows that, despite the term’s intended negative connotation, the label should really be worn like a badge of honor. Sure, some beer lovers or, even worse, casual wine drinkers might find that snobbery worthy of derision, but they clearly don’t understand the difficulty, dexterity and dedication necessary to reach that level. Thankfully, however, a scientist has finally tossed us wine snobs a life preserver—a Yale neuroscientist nonetheless. In his recently published book, Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine, Gordon Shepherd argues that wine tasting actually stimulates your brain more than allegedly highfalutin activities like listening to music or even tackling a complicated math problem. Remember that time you did trigonometry while sipping wine with Beethoven playing the background? That’s basically the closest you’ve ever come to being Albert Einstein.
According to Shepherd, tasting wine “engages more of our brain than any other human behavior.” His book – essentially an oenologic extension of his previous publication, Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters – delves into this process with extreme detail, from the fluid dynamics of how wine is manipulated in our mouths; to the effect of its appearance, smell and mouthfeel; to the way our brains process and share all that information. He suggests that unlike something like math that utilizes a specific source of knowledge, wine tasting engages us more completely. Speaking to NPR, he explained how even basic steps of wine tasting can be more complicated than they seem. “You don't just put wine in your mouth and leave it there,” Shepherd said. “You move it about and then swallow it, which is a very complex motor act.”
However, possibly the most complex part of wine tasting—one of Shepherd’s central points and the subtitle of his book—is his argument than when we drink wine, our brains are actually need to create the flavors for us to enjoy. “The analogy one can use is color,” he explained to NPR. “The objects we see don't have color themselves, light hits them and bounces off. It's when light strikes our eyes that it activates systems in the brain that create color from those different wavelengths. Similarly, the molecules in wine don't have taste or flavor, but when they stimulate our brains, the brain creates flavor the same way it creates color.”
It’s a pretty intense philosophy to wrap your head around. However, I will tell you, one time I drank so much wine that all the sights, smells and flavors of wine completely disappeared. So maybe he’s on to something.