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!