Recently, I saw a television ad for a special 20th anniversary edition of the game Trivial Pursuit. As with most TV commercials, this one annoyed me. For some reason Trivial Pursuit has always annoyed me. I loathe the idea of having to play Trivial Pursuit at a party only slightly less than having to play Charades or Twister, all of which seem popular with those kitschy folks we were calling yuppies a few years ago. It’s all just so … retro!
Oddly enough though, I can never get too much wine trivia. So maybe I’m just a trivia snob, which goes along nicely with being a wine snob. So as you sit around with friends and relatives killing time during the holidays, praying for someone to say or do something, why not propose a wine trivia challenge? A wine trivia contest is both informative and enjoyable-especially if you’re drinking copious amounts of vino during the game.
To get you started, here are some of my favorite items of useless wine trivia:
A person with an unreasonable or irrational fear of wine is called an Oenophobe.
Believe it or not, Ohio was considered the most important wine producing state in the United States prior to the Civil War. Ahh—there’s nothing quite like Cincinnati sauvignon blanc!
The average bottle of champagne contains approximately 49 million bubbles, according to scientist Bill Lembeck.
It takes an average of 600 grapes to produce a bottle of wine.
The technical term for lousy wine is “plonk.” My technical term for lousy wine is white zinfandel.
The first evidence of wine production was in, of all places, Northern Iran, circa 3000 B.C. Winery tour of Tehran, anyone?
Those tears that run down the side of a wineglass after you swirl the wine are called “legs.”
The first commercial U.S. winery was located in Missouri, established in 1823.
In 1920 there were more than 700 wineries located in California.
The year 1860 was a significant one for wine drinkers. It was the year the corkscrew was invented. I wonder how they got the bottles open before that?
Contrary to popular belief, Dom Perignon did not invent champagne. Rather he invented the mushroom shaped cork and wire cage used in bottling champagne.
The most expensive bottle of wine ever sold was a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite, engraved with Thomas Jefferson’s initials. It sold in London at auction in 1985 for 105,000 pounds.
The largest cork tree in the world is located in the Alentejo region of Portugal. It produces more than 1 ton of cork per harvest, enough to make 100,000 wine corks.
The oldest wine bottle known to man is on display in the Speyer Museum in Speyer, Germany. It’s approximately 1600 years old.
The first California wines grapes were planted in 1769, in Mission, San Diego.
To whom is this quote attributed? “Wine is the noblest cordial of nature.” Answer: John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church.
Perhaps only rivaled by Charles Bukowski, the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow mentioned wine in his poems more than 300 times.
Finally, as my holiday gift to you, I offer bonus trivia: In Fairbanks, Alaska, it’s illegal to serve a moose any beverage containing alcohol, including wine.