Just for fun

Fun, Unique & Amusing Facts About Wine

Posted on

Wine is an age old tradition.

Here is a variety of fun, odd, and amusing facts about wine, grapes, vineyards and winemaking.


Courtesy of #SonomaChat, an on-line, Twitter-based conversation about our favorite subject — WINE!!

Fun Facts About Wine

  1. Wine is made in virtually every country in the world.

  2. 20140713_195926Due to a natural chemical balance, grapes ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, water, or other nutrients.

  3. In Vietnam, if you are in the know and ask your waiter for a glass of cobra wine. They will serve you rice-wine covered with snake blood that is killed on the spot.

  4. Intense fear or hatred of wine is called “oenophobia.”

  5. The dark green wine bottle was an English invention, the work of Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665). Previously wine had been kept in goat skin bags.

  6. Wine ‘tastings’ are somewhat inaccurately named – top sommeliers agree that smell is by far the most important sense when it comes to drinking wine.

  7. The custom of bumping glasses with a “cheers” greeting came from old Rome.

  8. In ancient Egypt, the ability to store wine until maturity was considered alchemy and was the privilege of only the pharaohs.DSC_0895(2)

  9. Bubbles in wine have been observed since ancient Greece and were attributed to the phases of the moon or to evil spirits.

  10. Winemaking is a significant theme in one of the oldest literary works known, the Epic of Gilgamesh. The divinity in charge of the wine was the goddess Siduri.

  11. The average age of a French oak tree harvested for use in creating wine barrels is 170 years.

  12. The primary fruit crop in Napa Valley during the 1940’s was Prunes – Not grapes.

  13. 10,000 varieties of wine grapes exist worldwide.

  14. Roman Historian Pliny the Elder rated 121 B.C. as a vintage “of the highest excellence.”  This was the first known reference to a specific wine vintage.

  15. 400 different oak species are available to source wood for wine barrels.

  16. The signing of the Declaration Of Independence was toasted with glasses of Madeira.

  17. President Lincoln held an actual liquor license back in his days in Salem, Illinois. For a modest $7 dollars, in 1833, he and his partner William F. Berry got a tavern license that permitted them to sell a “1/2 pint of wine or French brandy for $.25

  18. DSC_0488Wine tasting is the sensory examination and evaluation of wines.

  19. A few vine cuttings from the New World brought to Europe spread a tiny insect called Phylloxera vastatrix, which feeds on the roots of vines. The only way to save all of the European grape vines was to take European vines that were grafted onto American rootstocks to combat Phylloxera.

  20. A “cork-tease” is someone who constantly talks about the wine he or she will open but never does.

  21. While wine offers certain medical benefits, it may slightly increase the risk of contracting certain kinds of cancer of the digestive tract, particularly the esophagus.

  22. European wines are named after their geographic locations while non-European wines are named after different grape varieties.

  23. Besides churches and monasteries, two other great medieval institutions derived much of their income from wine: hospitals and universities. The most famous medieval wine-endowed hospital is the beautiful Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune, France, it is now a museum.

  24. DSC_0912In the Middle Ages, the greatest and most innovative winemakers of the day were monastic orders. The Cistercians and Benedictines were particularly apt winemakers, and they are said to have actually tasted the earth to discover how the soil changed from place to place.

  25. The Germans invented Eiswein, or wine that is made from frozen grapes.

  26. Because grapes in the Southern Hemisphere are picked during what is Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, a 2010 Australian wine could be six months older than a 2010.

  27. As wine comes into contact with air, it quickly spoils.

  28. DSC_0528_04Chilling tones down the sweetness of wine. If a red wine becomes too warm, it may lose some of its fruity flavor.

  29. Wine is made with grapes, but it is NOT made with the typical table grapes you would find at the grocery store.

  30. Ancient Romans believed that seasoning was more important than the main flavor of wine. They often added fermented fish sauce, garlic, lead and absinthe.

  31. The Romans discovered that burning sulfur candles inside empty wine vessels kept them fresh and free from a vinegar smell.

  32. DSC_0874_02The word “sommelier” is an old French word meaning butler or an officer in charge of provisions, derived from the Old Provençal saumalier, or pack-animal driver.

  33. The “Cheers” ritual started back in the Middle Ages, when poisoning was a favorite way to get rid of an enemy. To be sure their glass was poison-free, drinkers would first pour a bit of wine into each other’s glass, so if there was poison in one, it was now in both.

  34. A crop of newly-planted wines takes about four to five years to grow before it can be harvested.

  35. A “butt” is a medieval measurement for the liquid volume of wine.

  36. DSC_0106_03Prohibition had a devastating impact on the US wine industry, and it took years to recover. Some wineries survived by making sacramental wine for religious purposes, which was allowed under the law.

  37. China has become the leading market for red wine—not just for its flavor. It’s a color favored by the government, and also is considered lucky.

  38. Single-celled organisms called yeast convert the sugar in grapes into alcohol and carbon dioxide, and also release heat in the process.

  39. CMyb1YIUEAAjla5Most wine glasses are specifically shaped to accentuate those defining characteristics, directing wine to key areas of the tongue and nose, where they can be fully enjoyed.

  40. All wine is stored at the same temperature, regardless of its color. But reds and whites are consumed at completely different temperatures.

  41. One glass of wine consists of juice from one cluster of grapes.

  42. Seventy-five grapes comprise one cluster.

  43. One grape vine produces 10 bottles.

  44. One acre can contain 400 vines, resulting in five tons of grapes.

One Bottle of Wine:

  • 750 ml of liquid
  • 2.4 pounds of grapes (39 oz.)
  • 4 glasses of wine

One Barrel of Wine:

  • 740 Pounds of grapes and 59 gallons
  • 295 bottles of wine
  • 1,180 glasses of wine

Capacity (Liters) followed by the number of standard size wine bottles that would be:

  • Standard (.75)  1
  • Magnum (1.5)  2
  • Jeroboam (3)  4
  • Rehoboam (4.5)  6
  • Methuselah (6)  8
  • Salmanazar (9)  12
  • Balthazar (12)  16
  • Nebuchadnezzar (15)  20



Visit from The Inter College Business School

Posted on

Bart Van Den Dries, our importer from the Netherlands with some of the students from The Inter College Business School B.V visited us here at Merwida Winery.


#CelebrateBreedekloof – A Whole Month Of Celebrations and Wine

Posted on

For a whole month, the Breedekloof Wine Valley will celebrate all it has accomplished this year. Join us for #CelebrateBreedekloof and experience some of the best wines in the country! And what’s the best of it all – you will be able to taste Merwida’s wines from 10am until 4pm, on Saturdays!


Read the rest of this entry »

Dog Detectives

Posted on

“DOGS can be used as

pest and disease detectors in vineyards,

according to a Melbourne University researcher.”


Article from TheWeeklyTimes

Sonja Needs, a lecturer and tutor in wine, climate change, adaptation and animal science, says dogs can detect for beehive collapse, termites and fire ants.

Ms Needs, who worked at CSIRO and has a background in winemaking, said the major advantage dogs had as a detection tool was they were versatile and fast.

“Dogs have a greater sensitivity to volatile molecules than most mobile gas chromatography detectors, and they can sort and discriminate scents where machines have difficulty,” she said.

“We start the dogs off on a neutral substance, a specific volatile substance that they will not encounter elsewhere once in their environment.

“Once they’re reliable on the first odour, we can shift them on to whatever substance that we want.”

Ms Needs started detector research and training with her late German Shepherd Luther and now her Border Terrier, Keely.

Ms Needs and Luther volunteered for search and rescue but Luther developed degenerative canine myelopathy, a condition similar to motor neurone disease.

“Luther was still mentally fine but physically was not able to do the search and rescue,” she said.

Ms Needs started researching using dogs as detectors.

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s almost Heritage Day!

Posted on Updated on

Are you stocked up yet?

Wood? Firelighters? Braaivleis? Wine?

Tomorrow is #NationalBraaiDay and we hope you are ready! If not, please feel free to visit our wine sales tomorrow between 9am and 1pm to make sure you have the perfect wine for this special occasion.

With it being #HeritageMonth, we would like to remind you of the rich history of Merwida, but first:

Meet Johannes Carolus, or “Boetie” as we call him. Boetie is one of the cellar workers at Merwida and has been working here for almost 10 years. He is also responsible for hoisting the flags every morning. This morning, we decided to celebrate #HeritageMonth with brand new flags, and as always, Boetie was on point:

*According to our calculations, this was the 4838th time Boetie has hoisted our two Merwida and two South African flags.

Herewith a reminder of Merwida’s heritage:

Read the rest of this entry »

Yay to Cabernet!

Posted on

Happy #CabernetThursday!

We are celebrating with a few facts from WineFolly

  • Cabernet has its own official holiday–the Thursday before Labor Day

  • Cabernet Sauvignon is the offspring of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc

  • Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted wine grape in the world (~720,000 acres)

  • It has higher levels of an aroma compound called Methoxypyrazine which is why it’s noted for aromas of black pepper, green peppercorn, black currant and sometimes even bell pepper

  • Cabernet Sauvignon is a half-sibling of Merlot, Hondarribi Beltza (from Basque Country) and Carménère

  • It is included in the Bordeaux blend, Meritage blend, Supertuscan blend, and CMS blend

  • Wineries in Napa Valley pay more on average for Cabernet Sauvignon grapes than they do for other grapes

  • Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines are tracked and traded like stocks

  • It is the most planted variety in Chile

  • It is one of the most important varieties in China

  • It is the most reviewed red wine variety in Wine Spectator’s database

  • There’s a reason why it tastes great with steak… Read more


Tannins (for dummies)

Posted on Updated on

As a wine drinker, you might have come accross a discussion of a wine’s “tannins”, and although you noddingly approved on everything they said, no one has ever really explained what tannins are. Luckily, we’ve got your back!

Via VINEPAIR Read the rest of this entry »

White… Red… Pink… and blue?

Posted on

By now you’ve probably heard of the latest craze in the wine industry – blue wine…

Gïk, a Spanish startup company is hoping to redefine your drinking experience by opening the world to other colour wines. Though they’ve created quite a stir with their blue wine, the chances for other coloured wines to soon reach our shelves are inevitable. Their reason for choosing the colour blue, is explained below.

But what we would like to focus on, is IF the general public will actually buy it before tasting it. Of course the idea of something this way out of the box is quite appealing to many people, but would the average wine drinker spend their money on a wine the is of this unusual colour?

Please complete our poll at the end of the post.

Source: The following information was found on the website of the company

It’s not about grapes, it’s about the people

Our wine comes from different Spanish and French vineyards, whose grapes we transform into Gïk. That’s right: we work with grapes from different areas of Spain, whose color and flavor we improve through food tech. We choose these wineries in terms of the people who work them and their innovative nature. That’s why Gïk has no denomination of origin, but a guarantee of quality and unique flavor.

Why blue?

We are not vintners. We are creators. So we sought the most traditional and closed minded industry out there. Once having selected the wine industry as our battlefield, we set about creating a radically different product, changing the colour to a vibrant blue and making the wine sweeter and easier to drink.When we started to work on our project we came across a book called The Blue Ocean Strategy. This explained that there are red oceans, full of sharks which have torn the little fish so much that they’ve tinted the water red. Then there are blue oceans, where there is no competition and fish swim unharassed. Thus the poetic idea of transforming a red ocean into a blue ocean through changing the most traditional red liquid into blue was one which greatly appealed to us.

Apart from that, in psychology blue represents movement, innovation and infinity. It’s also a colour frequently associated with flow and change.


Gïk is produced through a pigmentation process. Firstly a base is created from a mixture of red and white grapes, which is then added to two organic pigments; indigo and anthocyanin – which comes from the very skin of the grapes used to make wine.

We’ve spent the last two years conducting research in collaboration with the University of the Basque Country and Food Tech. research departments. Quality control checks are rigorous and all the elements used comply with the regulations for food products in the European Union.

No added sugar

Gïk carries no added sugars.

Why? Firstly because sugar ferments and turns into alcohol inside the bottle. Secondly, because excess of fast carbs leads to overweight, while non-caloric sweeteners are a healthier and more stable choice.

Our processes are safely regulated and have received the approval of institutions such as the European Food Safety Authority, who evaluate the terms of use of all compounds.


Unusual uses for wine

Posted on

You might have left a bottle of wine open for too long, or opened one that’s been corked – no worries, it’s still very useful… Ecosalon.com found 20 unusual uses for wine, and chose our favourites.

Fabric dye

If you’ve ever spilled red wine on fabric, you know how well the color holds on to just about any type of material. You can use virtually any type of red wine to dye fabric as long as you’re open to experimentation when it comes to the result, which could range from pale pink to deep mauve or even gray. Heat the wine to simmering in a big soup pot on the stove top, add your fabric, stir with a wooden spoon for 10 minutes and allow to cool. Rinse the fabric well.

Skin softener

All of those antioxidants that make red wine a healthy beverage may also provide benefits when applied directly to the skin. Some women recommend using red wine as a toner, which may help smooth and refine skin thanks to the acidity which is similar to that of vinegar. Actress Teri Hatcher reportedly pours a glass of red wine into her bath water, and in India, wine has many beauty uses, like softening and brightening the skin in spa facials.


Clean fruits and vegetables

Just like baking soda, wine can be used as a natural fruit and vegetable cleaner. The alcohol in the wine dissolves impurities on the surface, and according to a 2005 study by Mark Daeschel of Oregon State University, components in wine kill several types of foodborne pathogens like salmonella and E. coli.


Glass cleaner

Spoiled white wine is on its way to being vinegar, so naturally it works like a charm on dirty glass. Add a few tablespoons to a spray bottle of water, apply to windows and mirrors and wipe with a newspaper.

Fruit fly trap

Few things are more tempting to pesky fruit flies than an aromatic glass of red wine. Use this attraction to your advantage and soon these unwanted guests will disappear from your kitchen. Just pour a half-inch of red wine into a glass and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Then, poke a few small holes in the wrap, which will let the flies in, but won’t allow them to exit.

Remove grease stains

Pour leftover white wine onto grease and oil stains on garage floors and driveways, and the alcohol and acidity will help them dissipate.

Heal bruises

An old folk remedy recommends soaking a piece of bread in wine and then applying it to a bruise to help it heal faster. Does it really work? It’s hard to say, but there may be some science to support this theory. Wine is rich in flavonoids, which are antioxidants that have a number of beneficial effects on the body, including soothing inflamed tissue.


Meat marinade

Not only does red wine make steak extra-flavorful, it may reduce cancer-causing compoundsnaturally found in meats. Frying and grilling meat at high temperatures turns sugars and amino acids of muscle tissue into carcinogenic compounds, but marinating steak in red wine for at least six hours before cooking can reduce two types of carcinogens by up to 90 percent. Use about a cup of red wine, a cup of olive oil and the seasonings of your choice like garlic, parsley and peppercorns.

Turn it into jelly

Your choice of wine, some sugar and a pouch of liquid pectin are all it takes to make a customized flavor of wine jelly. Who wouldn’t like a little homemade champagne jelly with strawberries on their morning toast? Instructables has the details, which simply requires a few pots and some canning jars.



Boost brainpower

Two new studies have shown that polyphenols in wine (and chocolate!) increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, boosting cognitive ability. The effect gets even more beneficial as you age, since there is a natural reduction in blood supply around the brain later in life. All the more reason to have a glass of ‘medicine’ and a little dessert every chance you get.




Power Prince Charles’ Aston Martin

If you’re loaded like Prince Charles, you can use wine to power your ultra-pricey vintage Aston Martin. The British king-in-waiting converted his 38-year-old car to run on biofuel made from surplus wine as a way to reduce his carbon emissions. Of course, we plebes can apply this to our own lives (and less fancy cars) by purchasing pre-made wine bio-ethanol or even possiblymaking it ourselves.

Wine Legs

Posted on

While searching for info on the legs of wine, we came across two rather interesting articles:


The legs of wine are the streaks of wine forming on the side of the wine glass.

This phenomenon is caused by the lower surface tension and faster evaporation of alcohol. Legs tell us about alcohol content and colour depth

The legs were once thought to be associated with a wine’s quality (the more legs, the higher the quality). However, the legs have more to do with physics, the wine’s surface tension and alcohol content, than perceived quality.

Wine is a mixture of alcohol and water, the alcohol has a faster evaporation rate and a lower surface tension than water, effectively forcing the alcohol to evaporate at a faster rate. This dynamic allows the water’s surface tension and concentration to increase, pushing the legs up the glass until the surface tension pushes the water into beads. Finally, gravity wins the battle and forces the liquid to tear down the glass in a defeated streak.

Source: wine.about.com



We want to clear something up right now: wine legs don’t matter.

In fact, in all of our years involved in wine, we’ve never met anyone who could read them correctly. Nor could they explain why they believe they matter. But, just in case you encounter someone who wants to talk about legs, and claims to understand them, here’s a quick explanation so you’re prepared.

Wine legs, also referred to by the French as the “tears of a wine,” are the droplets or streaks of water that form on the inside of a wine glass as you move the wine around. While some people think these legs relate to the quality, sweetness or viscosity of the wine, THEY DO NOT. In fact, wine legs are just a representation of how much alcohol is in a wine. That said, we have never met anyone who could correctly “read” those legs and then tell us the level of alcohol in the wine. And why should they bother when the alcohol percentage is already printed on the wine label?

So while wine legs look beautiful in a glass as they streak down the sides, don’t worry about reading them, as they don’t matter. Just enjoy the wine and the visual!