Fascinating Facts About Wine You Didn’t Know

From clinking glasses of champagne together on New Year’s Eve to enjoying a glass of red wine with dinner, wine is a common part of life for many people. It plays a role in holidays, celebrations, casual get-togethers, and even quiet, relaxing days.

As common as this classy drink is, there are plenty of fascinating facts about wine you probably didn’t know. For example, did you know the oldest known bottle of wine dates back to ancient Rome? Can you guess how much the world’s most expensive wine purchase was? (Hint: think higher). Whether you’re looking for a conversation-starter for your next wine-tasting or you simply love learning about the wondrous world of wine, satisfy your curiosity with these intriguing facts about the culture, history, and impact of wine.

Wine Is Older Than You Think

We know the creation of wine is an art that stretches far back in human history. Countless historic texts mention wine as part of daily life in Greece, Rome, and other ancient civilizations. One Persian fable describes the accidental discovery of wine almost 7,000 years ago, and researchers found jars of red wine buried with King Tutankhamun when they unearthed his tomb in Egypt.

Scientists can use carbon dating to analyze remnants of wine. The earliest evidence of wine as we know it comes from an archaeological site in Iran that dates back to the Neolithic period. Scientists dated the wine itself to sometime between 5400 and 5000 BCE. However, some researchers have traced other wine-like substances to much earlier than that. There are 60-million-year-old fossils that indicate pre-human ancestors might have indulged in older grapes, much like modern animals often prefer riper fruits.

Wine Has Health Benefits

We often think of wine as something to indulge in, but it can also be good for your health—if you drink responsibly, of course. Wine, especially red wine, is known for containing antioxidants such as resveratrol. This component, which comes from grape skins, can fight inflammation, blood clotting, and other health issues. Resveratrol and other antioxidants survive the winemaking process—albeit in lower quantities—to deliver those same health benefits to wine-drinkers.

Studies also suggest that wine can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s important to note that many people consume red wine regularly as part of the Mediterranean diet, which is also linked to improved heart health. The Mediterranean diet involves certain foods—such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and herbs and spices—as well as certain lifestyle habits, such as exercising regularly, enjoying meals socially, and enjoying wine in moderation.

White Wine Doesn’t Come From White Grapes

Because there are different colors of grapes, it makes sense to assume that red and white wines come from red and white grapes, respectively. This is a misconception, though. The difference between red and white wine stems from what part of the grape is used, not what kind of grape is used.

White wine uses only the juice from pressed grapes, while red wines use the juice, the skins, and even the stems. This is also where tannins—the bitter chemical more prevalent in red wines—come from. Tannins exist in the grape skins, seeds, and stems, so it makes sense that they show up in red wines more than in white wines.

Grape Juice Ferments on Its Own

One of the most fascinating facts about wine that many people don’t know is that grape juice can self-ferment when exposed to natural yeasts in the air. If you leave it alone for long enough, it will start producing alcohol and turn into wine. Though there’s no guaranteeing quality in self-fermenting grape juice, the alcohol content is still there.

For this reason, grape juice became exceedingly popular in the United States during Prohibition. Sales skyrocketed as bootleggers found the perfect loophole. They could purchase grape juice legally and then easily produce wine within their homes.

Wine Preferences Can Be Genetic

Have you ever wondered why some people enjoy wine while others simply don’t see the appeal? This can be attributed to personal preference, but there might also be genetic factors at play. Humans have 25 different genes that affect their taste buds. One gene, TASR38, is the most sensitive gene to alcohol, influencing how wine and other beverages taste to an individual. People who have two copies of the TASR38 gene are more likely to experience a bitter taste when they consume alcohol, which means they’re less likely to notice and enjoy the other flavors in a glass of wine.

The World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine Is...

So have you guessed how much the world’s most expensive bottle of wine cost? We all know that a fine bottle of wine can get pretty expensive, with some luxury wines selling for thousands of dollars. But even that doesn’t come close to the prices you can see at elite wine auctions. The most expensive bottle of wine ever sold was a 1945 vintage Romanée-Conti wine. It was one of only 600 bottles of its kind ever produced, and it sold at an auction house in Geneva, Switzerland, for over $558,000. How close was your guess?

Of course, you don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to enjoy a good bottle of wine. Hotel Collection offers a versatile selection of luxury wines to suit any taste. Pick up your favorite bottle and enjoy a sip of luxury wherever you are.