A Brief History
On May 25, 2019, we celebrate another National Wine Day, and there certainly is a lot to celebrate! There are wines for just about every occasion, and even specialty wines such as Game of Thrones wines to capitalize on the popularity of the iconic cable television series. Even President Trump had his own line of “Trump” wines. Wine for drinking when eating meat, pasta, seafood or whatever, they make a wine to accompany what you are eating. Of course, being an alcoholic beverage, wine is also used for toasting, and Champagne, a bubbly variety of wine you may consider the King of Wine, is even used to christen new ships and the like, as well as toasting each and every new year, let alone new marriages and such.
Wine making goes back to about 7000 BC, first documented in China and made of a fermented brew of rice, honey and fruit. Wine was known in the Middle East region by at least 4000 BC and was rapidly spreading to Europe and the Mediterranean. Earthenware vessels were replaced as wine storage containers by wooden casks by around 900 BC, and glass bottles showed up around 100 BC, becoming known in the Roman world by around 1 AD. Today, you may find wine sold in cardboard boxes, plastic containers or other such tacky materials. All snobbery aside, boxed wine can be pretty darn tasty to laymen such as this author. White wines, red wines, blush and rose, grape, fruit, sweet, dry, dessert, ice and all sorts of varieties for every taste and every purpose. With or without “tiny bubbles.” They even make vinegar from wine.
Almost every country on Earth has their own domestic wine industry and each nation and region seems to be quite proud of their local products. While France is virtually synonymous with wine and is the source of Champagne, Italy is now the #1 producer of wine of all countries, with France relegated to #2. Spain is #3 and the United States comes in at #4. (With wine producing regions such as California and the Lake Erie/Niagara areas you would think the US would rank higher. Or at least I would. Especially with the much larger geographic area and population than the European countries.) You may be surprised to know that next on the list is Argentina, followed by Chile, Australia and Germany, then South Africa and with China, the origin of wine in the first place, coming in at #10.
Since the population of countries can easily skew wine consumption numbers, consider the amount of wine consumed per person each year as a measure of what countries are sucking up the most joy juice in the world. What is your guess for #1? If you said, “Vatican City,” you would be right! The Holy City slurps an astounding 54+ liters of wine per person per year. Among the top 15 or so wine consuming nations, all are in Europe except Uruguay, which comes in at #12. France is #5 and Italy ranks only #10, despite their status as the biggest wine producers. So what about Americans? The US annual per capita wine consumption, though growing every year, is only just over 10 liters per person per year, not even close to half the amount consumed by Germans (24.84 liters per person per year, ranking #15 in the world).
How should you enjoy your wine? Use it for cooking, as a pre-meal appetizer, drink it with food, sip it with friends, use it for toasting, cooking, marinating, christening ships, making cocktails and coolers, and as an after-dinner drink. Hey, you could make a song about the fabled liquid refreshment! Many, many people have, but there is always room for another song about Vino. (Our favorite wine, you ask? Riunite Lambrusco!)
To celebrate National Wine Day, you could visit your local winery or host a wine tasting party. Or just sit at home and enjoy a glass or two of your favorite wine. Perhaps hold a “wine and cheese” tasting party, as those two treats go together rather well. Decorate your home with wine themed decorations. (Just do not drink and drive!) Be sure to prepare at least one meal using wine in your cooking today and be sure to have wine to accompany each meal on this special day. After all, many studies have indicated wine is good for your health, at least in moderation. You could also sit back and listen to the many great songs about wine (our favorite is “Summer Wine,” by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood), make your own wine, give wine as gifts, or wear wine inspired clothing, such as those common tee shirts with the “In Vino Veritas” slogan.
Question for students over 21 years of age (and subscribers): What type and brand is your favorite wine? What is your favorite wine themed song? How do you recommend celebrating National Wine Day? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Kolpan, Steven. Exploring Wine: Completely Revised 3rd Edition. Wiley, 2010.
MacNeil, Karen. The Wine Bible. Workman Publishing Company, 2015.
Patterson, Tim. Home Winemaking For Dummies. For Dummies, 2010.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Mick Stephenson of a Tempranillo varietal wine bottle and glass, showing colour, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.