Wine is one of the oldest alcoholic drinks ever invented, dating back no less than 8,000 years. What mysteries and stories has it gathered in all that time, and what crazy, unusual tales about customs, events, people and wine bottles lie hidden behind that charming, yet complex taste we've all come to know and love? Let's find out!
1. Wine and Wasps
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is an important type of yeast that grows on vineyard grapes and without which wine would not have the same amazing taste we are used to. Not many people know, however, that the fungus would not survive in the frosty months of winter, and it is up to wasps to provide it with a safe refuge (in their guts) and reintroduce it in spring - after having used it to feed their offspring.
2. Clinking Wine Glasses
Although some believe clinking was invented to ward off evil spirits, the real reason behind it seems a lot more mundane. As the manufacturing of fine glasses became almost an art, clinking started to catch on, as the beautiful sound of stemware became far more appealing than any past customs.
3. Wine Tasters Are Easy to Fool
An intriguing story about wine has to do with the old and noble tradition called wine tasting. Considered a “fine skill” that takes years of practice for learning various concepts like soil quality and “connectedness”, or the description of “chewy” or “expressive” tastes, a 2001 study fooled more than 50 people who were versed in wine tasting, by simply dyeing a white bottle of wine red.
4. The Tiger's Bone
One of the saddest stories about wine comes from China. Apparently, a type of expensive wine produced through a complex process using the bone of an endangered animal – the white tiger – can sell for more than $800 a bottle. Despite having been outlawed since 1993, people using and marketing this wine often find loopholes and entice drinkers talking about the wine's alleged “special” properties.
5. The Judgment of Paris
Named after an Ancient Greek underdog story, the Judgment of Paris was one of the most memorable showdowns in the wine tasting world. Taking place in 1976, the event pitted a Californian wine merchant against some of France's best wines and wine experts. Against all odds, a Californian Cabaret was dubbed as the winner, sending shock waves throughout the culinary world.
6. Music and Wine
Apparently, one strange and interesting story about wine tells about different musical pieces altering the taste of fine wine. Researcher Adrian North from Heriot Watt University conducted an experiment in which he compared the effects of both gentle classical music and fast-paced contemporary tunes, reaching a surprising conclusion: the type of music that plays in the room can actually alter the taste of the wine to a considerable extent.
7. Wine in Space
One of the stranger stories of the Apollo program had to do with NASA planning to send wine to outer space, along with other foods and beverages added alongside tasteless powder protein. A type of sherry was selected that could withstand the harshness of space travel. Unfortunately, NASA was forced to pull the plug on the project due to public outrage against giving astronauts alcoholic beverages.
Wine has inspired many regular people and well-known personalities alike throughout the years. What other tales about wine do you know of that could be added to this list?