Posted 24th January 2013        

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Just in case you didn’t get enough bad jokes and useless trivia from your Christmas crackers last year, we thought we’d provide all you red-wine drinkers with a stock of wine trivia with which you can entertain your future dinner party guests or wine tasting friends when the conversation starts to flag.

Firstly, how well do you know the capacity of the various sizes of red wine bottles? The capacity of a standard bottle of wine is three quarters of a litre, variously labelled as 75cl or 750ml. The smallest wine bottle in use is an Italian Piccolo. This tiny bottle holds just a quarter of the capacity of a standard wine bottle i.e. 18.75cl or 187.5ml.

There are many sizes of red wine bottles which are bigger than the standard bottle and are perfect for sharing at a party. A Magnum is relatively familiar to us and is double the size of a standard bottle i.e. 1.5 litres. But now your starter for 10 – what are the capacities of a Jeroboam, a Methuselah and a Nebuchadnezzar?

A Jeroboam is twice the size of a Magnum so is the equivalent to four standard bottles of wine whilst a Methuselah holds the equivalent of eight standard bottles of wine. The largest capacity bottle is a Nebuchadnezzar, holding a massive 20 standard bottles of wine. Should you so wish you could serve 120 guests a glass of red wine all from the same bottle!

Should you drink your way through a Magnum of cheap red wine you may well suffer a hangover the following morning. Which ingredient in the wine would claim the most responsibility for your headache and dodgy stomach? The preservatives in wine are the major cause of bad hangovers which is one reason why drinking more expensive red wine tends to lead to a more bearable morning after. Or perhaps it’s because we can’t afford to drink the more expensive wine in such great quantities?

Talking about wine bottles, why are the bottles shaped as they are? The main reason is that the shape makes them ideal for storing horizontally and keeping the cork moist. Now you know why you bought that wine rack rather than leaving the bottles standing upright!

If you like to buy your red wine in boxes for easy storage and pouring, do you know where the wine bag inside the box was first developed? It probably won’t surprise you to know that the wine bag was the idea of Australian wine producers, who have also been the pioneers in the use of screw caps on wine bottles.

We know that red wine is made from grapes, sugar and yeast amongst other ingredients. But do you know what percentage of the wine you are drinking is water? A massive 85 per cent of wine is water which begs the question why do we get such bad hangovers when most of what we are drinking is water?

Despite the high percentage of water we still enjoy drinking wine and sometimes the temptation to consume a newly bought bottle of red wine is just too great, despite knowing that the wine is likely to improve if we can only hold off for a while. If the wine never makes it to the wine rack in your house you are not alone. A quarter of all commercially produced wine in the world is drunk within one week of its purchase.

Whether drinking a newly purchased bottle of red wine or one which has been left to age many of us will clink glasses with our fellow drinkers before taking our first sip. How did this custom come about? In fact, clinking glasses is a very trusting gesture. In the past a guest would clink their glass to show they believed their host was not trying to poison them!

Red wine grapes are grown all over the world and rosebushes growing at the end of rows of vines are a familiar sight. But why are they there? Presumably not for aesthetic value, attractive as they are. In fact, rosebushes offer an excellent early warning system for fungus and disease which could threaten the vines. As the rosebushes are more susceptible to disease vine growers know that if the rosebushes start to look sickly then they need to be on the alert.

Finally, a couple of lifestyle trivia facts. Good news for wine and chocolate enthusiasts as according to Australian researchers you can cut your risk of heart disease by 75 per cent by drinking wine and eating dark chocolate. But beware if you are visiting a winery. The greatest cause of death in a winery is falling into a wine vat and being overcome by the CO2 gas from the fermentation!

Image by wallygrom.


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