Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Five Things You May Not Know About Wine

Lately my work has taken me away from the realms of fiction and blog writing and into extensive writing in the field of wine. Yet with McBoners thirsting constantly for that olde-tyme brand of McBone wisdom, I thought, why not combine the two? Fascinating subject, wine. Here are some wine facts you may not know, but should.

1. The cradle of grape growing was located not, as you might suppose, France, Italy or Akron, Ohio, but deep in the heart of the Caucasus mountains, most likely in the area that comprises modern-day Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Old Testament states that, upon landing his ark on the slopes of Mount Ararat (in Armenia, yo), Noah planted grapevines and made wine. Then one day homeboy got stone drunk and passed out in his tent wearing naught but his birthday suit. His son, Canaan, embarrassed by this unseemly set of circumstances, covered his father's junk with a blanket. Noah, not caring for the presumption shown by his youngest son, cursed Canaan, proclaiming: lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers, thus making Noah kind of a jackass, if you ask me.

2. North America is home to about 30 species of grapevine. Asia has another 30 or so. In Europe, there is but one native species of grape, the legendary Vitis vinifera. All told, V. vinifera accounts for more than 90 percent of all grapes grown in the world.

3. In the 1860s the United States, perhaps in a fit of jealousy over the precious and superior vinifera plant, "inadvertently" imported the tiny root louse phylloxera to France, nearly wiping out V. vinifera and the European wine industry altogether. European vines were only saved by grafting Old-World vines on top of louse-resistant New-World rootstock. To this day, European vines grow on American roots. The phylloxera epidemic is one of the earliest, but not the last, examples of US foreign policy run amok. 100 years later we would be import another destructive form of louse, this time to a South American wine producing country.

4. The first successful commercial winemaking operation in the United States was in Indiana in the early 1800s. After years of trying and failing to grow V. vinifera in the United States, Swiss viticulturist John James Dufour brought his knowledge of grape growing to the Midwest, that Americans might, as he put it, have wine by the produce of their own labor from the very ground they tread. Using hybrid varieties of grapes, Dufour succeeded in establishing a wine trade. However, the early Indianan wine industry did not last, most likely because of unfriendly growing conditions and wine that tasted like absolute shit.

5. Moderate daily red wine intake promotes not only a healthy heart, but improved digestion, circulation and kidney function. Red wine can prevent cancer, senility and Alzheimer's disease. Now, get this: in France, average annual wine consumption is over just 15 gallons per capita. In the United States, where we are one-third more likely to suffer a heart attack, average wine intake is around 2 gallons. The Bible Belt, where wine consumption approaches nil, is also known as "Stroke Alley." The moral? Drink wine or die!



StevenLink said...

Can this be in the textbook, too? Kind of a summary at the end of each chapter, for those who choose to skim it?

Anonymous said...

I find it a little strange that your first point about wine is a Bible story. Great retelling of a Biblical narrative from an atheist. Since you don't believe that story, why should I, a loyal McBoner, belive the rest of your post?

Kid Shay said...

Who knew the story of wine had so many villains? Truly wine is a noble drink.

Mike said...

I suggest a field trip to Napa Valley!

Nate and Jeff Bowler, Co-Captains said...

Steven: why the hell not?

Darin: hmm, I find your logic difficult to argue with.

Falling Rock: any great story has great villains.

Mike: name the date.


Anonymous said...

If you come to Napa, don't forget I live very close. You always have a place to stay. And, heck, that should be a tax deductible trip - for research purposes, of course.

Nate and Jeff Bowler, Co-Captains said...

Helllzzz yeah! Maybe we can coordinate it with a Bob concert.


C.J. said...

This is why I love Nate Bowler.

Question: Do you have a solution on how to make stores sell (good) wine for $1/bottle like they do in France?

Anonymous said...

Nate, if you want to coordinate a Bob show with a trip to Wine Country, Dylan is playing 2 shows in Berkeley - Sat Oct 10 & Sun Oct 11. It's just billed and Bob & His Band. And its too far away from Christmas to hear any of those songs he's been recently recording.

Nate and Jeff Bowler, Co-Captains said...

Ho-ly shit. I swear we are going to do that someday, but it will have to be another day. I'm afraid we blew our travel budget completely on the trip to England.

But seriously, this is something we should make happen. I'd almost be willing to sacrifice our planned road trip down Highway 61 next year to make that happen. What do you think?