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As much as I love tasting new wines, you may be surprised to know I am more passionate about learning about wine than actually drinking the wines. Each time I research wine I come across many wine trivia facts. I hope you enjoy this week’s column filled with great dinner conversation, party trivia and just a few facts you may not have known.

  • The world’s oldest bottle of wine, known as the Speyer wine bottle or Romerwein aus Speyer, dates to A.D. 325 and is on display in the Historical Museum of Palatinate in Speyer, Germany.
  • There is a law about wine given in the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1800 B.C). “If outlaws collect in the house of a wine-seller, and she do not arrest those outlaws and bring them to the palace, that wine-seller shall be put to death.” (109)
  • In Australia, wine labels are required to list the number of servings based on the alcohol content. For example, a bottle of Riesling with 8 percent alcohol by volume has 4.7 servings while a bottle of shiraz with 15 percent alcohol by volume has 8.9 servings per bottle.
  • It takes between three and 10 bunches of grapes to make a bottle of wine, with most bottles requiring about five. A standard wine barrel contains about 295 bottles.
  • The word “sommelier” is an old French word meaning butler or an officer in charge of provisions, derived from the Old Provencal “saumalier,” or pack animal driver.
  • In Vietnam, you can order a glass of “snake wine” made with the venom from the cobra. It is usually served as a shot of rice wine covered with snake blood. Many times, the snake is killed as you order. It’s considered to have medicinal properties. Bottled snake wine — bottles of rice wine or grain alcohol — steeped with whole snakes inside are also available.
  • The average age of a French oak tree harvested for the use of creating wine barrels is 170 years old. Mature trees have a tight grain ideal for barrel usage. Depending on the size of the tree and the size of the barrels, a cooper can make just one to three barrels from a single oak tree. However, the barrels can be used multiple times depending on the type of spirit and if they are being used to impart specific characteristics or simply for storage.
  • Winemaking is a significant theme in one of the oldest literary works known, the Epic of Gilgamesh. The divinity in charge of the wine was the goddess Siduri.