WASHINGTON – Wine. It’s paired with some of the world’s finest cuisines — not to mention some of the world’s finest cookies.
Experts are paid to know about its thousands of varieties, and expert grocery stores market it for $3 a bottle.
It’s been consumed for thousands of years, and the number of vineyards and wine producers continues to grow.
But here are some things you might not know about wine.
1. Malbec vs. Mickey and Minnie
Disneyland is a magical place, but so is wine tourism — otherwise known as enotourism … or oenotourism or vinitourism.
According to the California Wine Institute, 14.8 million tourists visit the state’s wine regions each year. Wine country is the second most popular destination in California after Disneyland, which saw 15.9 million visitors in 2010.
California isn’t the only place wine lovers travel.
In 2007, the U.S. Travel Association conducted a survey that found 27 million travelers engaged in culinary or wine-related traveling over three years. For comparison, Disney World’s Magic Kingdom saw 16.97 million visitors in 2010.
The survey included a list of the top 12 destinations for wine-related travel. They are California (31 percent), New York (10 percent), Missouri (5 percent), North Carolina (5 percent), Oregon (5 percent), Pennsylvania (5 percent), Washington (4 percent), Virginia (4 percent), Texas (4 percent), Florida (2 percent), Michigan (2 percent) and Ohio (2 percent).
Activities for wine travelers include participating in winery tours, driving a wine trail, tasting locally made wines and attending wine festivals.
The survey found that wine travelers spend, on average, $973 per trip, with about 23 percent (or $219) of their travel budget going toward wine-specific activities.
2. Think Outside the Bottle
Wines from France, meet wines from Franzia.
The wine box was invented by South Australian Riverland grape grower Thomas Angove in the 1960s, according to ABC News.
The bag-in-a-box packaging is less expensive and more environmentally friendly than bottles, since it is lighter and easier to transport. It also prevents the oxidation of wine, making it last longer. In recent years, some well-respected labels have turned to boxing their wines, putting to bed the notion that boxed wine is cheap, or not as good as wine sold in bottles.
How many vines does one vineyard have? Well, that depends on a lot of factors, including how close together the vines are planted and the acreage of the vineyard.
4. Hands Off
Chances are, you’re drinking incorrectly. Yes, there is a right and a wrong way to hold a wine glass.
No matter the shape or the size of the glass, you should hold it from the stem, Michael Greenlee, the sommelier and wine director of Gotham Bar and Grill in New York City tells Real Simple.
Holding your wine on the cupped area causes your body heat to warm the beverage, thus affecting the flavor profiles and ideal temperature of the wine. Other experts say holding the wine glass improperly is just poor manners, since it leaves fingerprints everywhere.
5. The Vatican Drinks the Most
In 2011, Americans drank about 10.46 liters of wine per person; Italians, 37.63 per person; and the French, 45.61 liters per person, a New York Times article reports.
But the French don’t take the lead in wine consumption — not by a long shot. Those of the Vatican, population 836, drank 62.20 liters per person in 2011.
The same article shows millennials have a growing interest in wine, compared to the generation that preceded them.
6. Global Warming Impacts Wine
Must we say “bye bye” to Bordeaux? A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2013 says rising temperatures and changes in rainfall affects traditional wine-growing regions in the Mediterranean — such as Southern France and Tuscany.
But some areas will see weather more favorable to growing grapes for wine, the study found. With continuing changes in climate, areas near Yellowstone National Park and the mountains of central China will be suitable for growing grapes.
Until then, the prices and demand for traditional European wines may increase.
7. Americans Spend More on Wine Than Liquor
Out of every $100 American consumers spend, about $1 goes to alcohol that is consumed at bars and restaurants and at home, NPR’s Planet Money reports.
And when it comes to buying booze for home, wine took a leap over liquor. Spirits, which accounted for 34.6 percent in 1982, plummeted to 12.6 percent in 2011, while wine purchases jumped from 16.2 percent to 39.7 percent in 2011.
8. Europe’s Biggest Wine Shop is 16,000 Square Feet