12 Things You May Not Know About Wine

Here's 12 interesting facts about wine you may not have known. I came across some of these nuggets in the past online, but was recently trying to figure out how many fluid ounces there were in a bottle of wine. Hope you find them helpful.

Grappe Grenache
Grappe Grenache

How much wine is in a bottle? Generally a bottle of wine measures the liquid in milliliters, with 750 ml being the standard amount in most bottles (or about 25 fluid ounces).

How many grapes does it take to make your average bottle of wine? It takes about 2 ½ pounds of grapes to make a bottle of wine.

How many bottles of wine does it take to make create a case of wine? 12

How many gallons of wine are produced from one acre of grapevines? About 800

Where does the vanilla flavor in wine come from?If newer oak barrels were used in the winemaking process, the wines will often have a hint of vanilla in both the aroma and flavor.

When was the corkscrew designed? Mid-1800’s.

How many varieties of wine grapes exist in the world today? Over 10,000!

How many gallons of wine does California produce annually? Over 17 million gallons

How many calories are in a four ounce glass of red wine Approximately 85

How many gallons of wine are in a single barrel? 60

How many grapevines generally make up an acre? 400

When did winemaking begin? The Mesopotamians were credited with producing the first wines in 6000 B.C.

Admiral Ackbar's Guide to Holiday Wine+Food

When I'm not leading the Rebellion you can find me at home making bite sized Admiral Ackbar's snack bars. They make a great finger food to serve as guests are coming out of hyperdrive and docking at your ship. I like to serve them with Rylothian Yurp so you won't get too filled up but will enjoy spice on spice action.

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White Truffle Mac & Cheese w/ Bacon Recipe

This is comfort food to the max. Warm your soul during the fall and winter months with this warm, delectable yumminess originally posted by recipegirl.com. I've made this a few times, and it's pretty rich, so you can ratchet up the truffle a bit if you want.


Heirloom Tomato Soup

. This recipe comes from Chef Brandon Sharp of the Michelin Star Restaurant, Solage in Calistoga, CA.  A recipe like this warms the soul when the weather gets cold.


INGREDIENTS 1 yellow onion, medium dice 1/4 cup Olive Oil 1 bunch fresh basil tied with 4 sprigs of thyme and 4 sprigs of marjoram 2 cloves of garlic, minced 5 overripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and large chunked 1/2 TBSP salt 1 TSP balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a large saucepot, sweat onions with herbs in oil over medium low heat until tender. Stir in garlic and quickly add tomatoes and salt. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until tomatoes are broken down. Drizzling in balsamic vinegar, remove herbs and blend soup with a hand blender while pouring in extra virgin olive oil.

Filet Mignon w/ Mushroom & Madeira Sauce



3 TBSP butter 2 tablespoons olive oil 12 OZ button mushrooms, thinly sliced 1/2 cup minced shallots 4 garlic cloves, minced 1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme 4 5-ounce filet mignon steaks (each about 3/4 inch thick) 1/2 cup Madeira 1-1/2 cups beef stock or beef broth 1/2 cup whipping cream Salt and Pepper

Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 TBSP olive oil in heavy large skillet or pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes until tender. Add 1/4 cup shallots and half of garlic, sauté until shallots are soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in thyme; season with salt and pepper. Transfer mushroom mixture to medium bowl. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plate, cover with foil. Add remaining 1/4 cup shallots and garlic to same skillet. Sauté 2 minutes. Add Madeira and boil until reduced by half. Add broth and boil until mixture is reduced to 2/3 cup. Add cream and boil until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Return steaks to skillet, cook to warm up, about 1 minute. Transfer to plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.



A meal as regal as this one calls for an exceptional wine. So far in 2009, the Spann Vineyards Cabernet from Sonoma is the best Cab I've had all year at any price. For $35 you would expect a good wine. The Spann Cabernet is a GREAT wine and could easily fetch $60.  This is an "OMIGOD" wine to be sure.  At least one person lucky enough to get a glass will inevitably blurt out something along those lines.  It's rich, it has depth, it's like cashmere in a glass balancing sweet jammy fruit with elegant nuances.  Peter and Betsy Spann have the ability to create beautiful wines that aren't over the top or overpowering, yet show layer after layer of interesting notes.  This reminds me of the 1988 Cheval Blanc I had last fall.  Perfectly balanced between sweet, sour, salty and bitter, it compliments the Filet pefectly.

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HOW TO make the Perfect Michelada


Michelada's are Mexico's answer to red beer that can be made in a variety of ways, but the main ingredients are beer and tomato juice.  The following is a recipe I like to use during football season because it goes with the tailgating types of foods.  A good Michelada has an equal balance of sweet, sour, bitter and salt (like most things in life) so when you make this, try to find the equal balance between ingredients.

INGREDIENTS 1 bottle Mexican beer such as Pacifico 1 lemon 1 TSP Michelada salt 1/4 cup Clamato dash of Tapatio

The lemon is really what brings everything together.  Cut the ends off a lemon, then cut the lemon in half.  Juice one half of the lemon into a pint glass making sure to remove seeds.  Add in TSP of Michelada salt, Clamato and a dash of Tapatio.  Your mixture should fill the bottom 1/3 of the pint glass.  Use a spoon and mix it together, then pour in Pacifico almost to the top making sure to leave room for lemon halves.  Sit back and enjoy!

Chilled Cucumber Soup Wine Pairing

photo courtesy of sassyradish.com



Go up to the ingredients list and pick out the fruits listed.  You'll see honeydew melon and lemon stand out as two of the flavors that go into the soup.  That's a great starting point when thinking about what wine to pull out and serve.  A grape like Muscat can work very well with tree fruits, and when you get one from France you will tap into a beautiful expression of the variety.  The 2009 Joseph Cattin Muscat comes from Alsace, France and should be relatively easy to find in local wine shops.

Here we see Muscat at its finest showing off aromatic fireworks that will remind you of walking through a garden with your shirt off, or at least that's what it reminded me of.  Fresh picked grapes, fresh flowers and a dusting of allspice will be apparent right off.  But I like this as a pairing because there's a dryness in the wine and an acidity that you need to cut through the soup.  The texture of the wine and texture of the soup are what make this an exciting first course for people you really like.  For people you don't really like you can serve them some plonk from California that sits on the bottom shelf.

4th of July Hot Dogs (Chicago Style)


photo courtesy of blogchef.net

You can't get much more American on the 4th of July than eating a dog. I grew up on Chicago Style hot dogs because both sides of my family come from the windy city, and if there's one thing we eat every time we go to Chicago, it's hot dogs. But they have to be done right. This is about as close as I can get you to the real thing, depending on what ingredients you have available. The right ingredients matter!

The combination of ingredients come together nicely to give you tanginess from the peppers, sweetness from the relish, tart from the mustard, salt from the celery salt.  I'm always talking about your taste regions: sweet, sour, bitter and salt and there they are all represented.  The umami region gets props from the beef dog.

Mike Tyson in a Wine Glass

Just look at this video. It's like watching Discovery channel where the wolf hunts the rabbit in slow motion, and when the wolf catches the rabbit it punches the rabbit with a devastating upper cut. Watching Mike Tyson was a rare sight. Power, finesse and raw aggression all at the same time. Sometimes I feel like my palate is on the receiving end of a spring loaded brick in a boxing glove when I drink Petit Sirah.

Petit Sirah looks like motor oil when it sits in your wine glass. Good Lord just look at it! It's as black as Mike Tyson's boxing shorts. Even around the rim, Petit Sirah is dark as night. When you drink it, your tongue is like the other boxer in the ring and the wine is Mike Tyson. Bam! Down for the count.

There's never been a 100-point Petit Sirah. Why is that? Do wine critics even rate this grape? You don't see collectors lining up to add cult Petit Sirah's to their cellar do you? No and No. This isn't a grape you'd normally lay down for a couple of years and then pull out to impress someone. There's no track record I know of showing benefits of long term aging.

So why do we drink it? Better yet, why spend $75 a bottle on the stuff? Why do dumb asses get in the ring with Mike Tyson? Maybe we're gluttons for punishment, or maybe there's actually some okay wine out there that's enjoyable to drink. I'll take the latter, especially now that it's BBQ season. When all my friends are opening Zinfandel for summer grilling, I'm opening Petit Sirah.  You can serve it with most grilled foods like burgers, succulent ribs and of course your favorite cut of beef.  Petit Sirah is at its best when it's big and bold, yet silky and sweet.  This is a wine that loves to be paired with meat.

Petit Sirah is neither petite nor is it Syrah.  The grapes might be small when they are picked, but that's about the only thing "petite" about the wine.  The short history of Petit Sirah is that it's basically the French varietal, Durif.  Durif is the love child of Syrah and Peloursin much like Cabernet Sauvignon is the love child of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.  The varietal was created in the 1880's at the University of Montpellier in France where a grape breeder named Durif was trying to capture certain characteristics of both varieties.  What we now have today is a wine that is full throttle, dark and inky and a mystery shrouded in black-as-night opaqueness.

A few gems I like to bust open when there's a brontosaurus burger on the grill:


2007 Girard Petite Sirah, Napa Valley - Melt licorice like a candle, add some cassis and sprinkle in some stewed plums, melted chocolate and North Carolina tobacco and you have a wine that's just begging for some BBQ ribs.  The thing is, Petit Sirah is pretty sweet and jammy.  That's why you want to add some heat to your meat.  Season up those ribs or favorite steak.

It's a good value from a good producer and a good year.  Because 2007 was such a big year for red wines in Napa, you'll want to either let this behemoth breathe or use some sort of aerator like the Wine Soiree doo-hickey that'll take some of the sting off that uppercut.




2005 Quixote Petit Sirah, Napa Valley - Way back when Robert Mondavi was just a kid starting out (okay, over 50 yr old man) he used to buy grapes from a man named Carl Doumani, original founder of the Stag's Leap Winery.  That was decades before Carl sold Stag's Leap to Beringer, and even then he had visions of something grand.  That vision was realized when Quixote opened its doors in 2001.

Doumani's love of architecture is apparent in the winery building and on the label.  That art represents the complex tension between elements in the winery's flagship wine.  Quixote makes only one wine, and its a doozy.  Blackberry jam in a glass with a texture that's as smooth as a baby's butt awaits you.  Impeccable intensity and purity of fruit, layered with subtle vanilla blackberry pie notes lull you into a trace just like Mike Tyson bouncing around the ring.  Then BAM!  You get hit by a freight train.  It's Mike Tyson in a glass.



2005 Carver Sutro Petit Sirah, Napa - Lots of dark black brooding fruits integrated with vanilla oak and above average tannins.  It's an extracted wine.  It's Mike Tyson in a glass wearing black silk boxing shorts.  It'll require some cellar time, but when opened it'll take you for a ride.  Winemaker, Gary Brookman dry farms the vineyards in Napa Valley stressing the vines so they give him pristine fruit.  What I love about the wine is notes of pencil lead and some wet dark colored soil as if you were hiking through Muir Woods and stopped to pick up a handful of earth.





The mystery of Petit Sirah is still unraveling and I invite you all to share you favorite Petit Sirah or Durif wines in the comments below.  I'm always on the lookout.  And let me know if this becomes your BBQ wine of choice.


HOW TO Taste Wine Like a Sommelier


Here's your chance to step with pep into any social setting and drop some wine knowledge like an old school beat.  No one likes the snooty know-it-all wine snob in the room, but you can still impress the pants of people by knowing how to taste wine like a sommelier.  As a side note, the real wine experts like Master Sommeliers are usually not the snooty know-it-all types in the room.  Actual wine experts know wine is about people—people who make the wine, and people who drink the wine.

The goal is to enhance your enjoyment of wine for the rest of your life and be able to know if a wine is good or not.  How do you know that?  One way is to know how accurately the wine shows typicity.  In other words, does it taste like the grape should and does it taste like it should considering where it was grown.  You might know that as terroir.

An accurate representation of the grape variety from the place its grown is a good wine.  A shitty wine is one that sort of resembles the grape, but the winemaker had to do so much stuff to it that it has no sense of place, or that it taste like a generic grape that could've been grown anywhere.  A Chardonnay from Burgundy, France comes across differently than a Chardonnay from Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

The real pimp way to earn respect is to know it, but don't show it.  Here's some some ideas on how to go through a wine and identify important "markers":


Roll the wine in the glass

Don't swirl the shit out of it.  Gently roll it in the glass.  You want to release the aromas in the wine, not break the sound barrier with how fast the wine is being swirled.  You can accomplish the same thing by rolling it and not pulling 3 G's like you're in a blender.  Look at how the wine drips down the side of the glass.  That gives you an idea of how high in alcohol the wine might be.


Look at the color

Color tells you some key things about the wine.  Color tips you off to the age of the wine, which is handy to know.  Young white wines have a slight greenish tint to them.  Older white wines start to get a brownish tint to them.  Red wines, as they age will fade in color around the rim of the glass.  You can tell an older wine because the rim is sort of orange colored.  Younger wines will have more opaque pink eraser color closer to the edge.  Try to narrow down to a window of 1-3 years old, 4-7 years old or older.

If you're not sure where to start, just stare at the wine and wonder if there's going to be an NFL season or not then move onto the next step.


Smell the wine

Here's where you start to piece things together.  A sommelier, and cool people who read this blog post start to paint a picture that help to identify the wine.  First, are there any faults in the wine like being corked (smells like Grandpa's basement), Brett or volatile acidity for example.  Is the wine "clean"?

Next, roll it in the glass then shove your nose in there.  First impression time—do you smell red fruits or black fruits in red wine?  For white wine, do you smell tree fruit or stone fruit?   This is what separates real wine experts from everyone.  Sommeliers can name specific fruit in the wine.  It's not just green apple, it's granny smith green apple.  It's not just cherry, it's dried bing cherry.

You want to look for 3 things: fruits, earthiness and wood.  Try to name the fruits you smell and be specific.  For earthiness, do you smell moss?  wet soil?  manure?  Even chalkiness can be a smell that is "earthy".  And for wood, do you smell vanilla?  How about baking spices?  If not, maybe it's an unoaked wine.

Being able to identify the fruit is one of the most important steps to blindly identifying the wine.  Most wines have distinct fruit associated with the grape.  For example, Grüner Veltliner has distinct notes of white pepper.  Sauvignon Blanc has telltale grapefruit on the nose.  Chalkiness is an important one that we'll get to next.

Here's a handy chart that shows what aromas go with with which wine grape.


Taste the Wine

Don't do what what you did in college and shotgun the wine.  I mean, you can and I won't judge you but you'll miss out on the beautiful expression of the grape.  If you're drinking a wine cooler, stop reading this blog and go to funnyordie.com.  Your bong is calling your name.

When you taste the wine, go through the same thing as smelling.  Identify fruit, earth and wood.  Try to name specific fruits you taste.  For red wines really hone in on whether it's red fruit or black fruit.  For earthiness, there's something cool known as chalkiness.  It literally is like a chalk texture.  That's important, because it helps you know the wine grapes were grown in chalky soils like limestone.  Limestone is only in certain places in the world.  Your brain can narrow down the wine to one of those areas such as France's Loire valley.

The real big thing to look for when tasting is whether the wine is fruit driven or acid driven.  Generally speaking, fruit forward wines are "new world" and acid driven wines come from the "old world".  Fruit driven wines are just that, wine driven by sweet fruit.  Acidity is something you hear about, but what is it?  Your palate detects acidity on the roof of your mouth in the back.  If that part of your mouth is all tingly, the wine has high acidity.  During blind tastings, wine tasters want to know if the wine is old world or new world so they can narrow down on where it comes from.  Old world wines come from France, Germany, Italy and other places in Europe.  New world wines come from Australia, USA, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, etc..

Neither is better, just different strokes for different folks.  It also helps when trying to decide if the wine has typicity and tastes like where it came from.

Last thing on taste is the tannins and finish.  Tannins dry your mouth out like when you drink tea or eat paint chips, which is what I did as a kid.  Finish is that lingering taste in your mouth after you've swallowed the wine or spit it out.  Can you still taste it 30 seconds after it's gone?  That's the finish.  How are the tannins, complexity and finish of the wine?



If you were being tested, you would be asked to combine all that stuff (color, age, nose, fruit, earth, wood, finish, etc..) and name the grape varietal and where it came from.  All the data would help narrow down what it is.  But for you, you can just have a look at the wine and appreciate all that went into making it.  Over time you might come to appreciate new things in wine like chalky textures in Sancerre Sauvignon Blancs or make more educated buying decisions.  Or if you go to someone's house and they open some sick bottle from their cellar you'll appreciate the gesture.

Who knows, if you're like me knowing stuff about wine might inspire you to be a better cook and understand how to pair flavors together.

There's no wrong way to enjoy wine.  Ultimately, it's about enjoying it with or without other people.  What you like is all that really matters.  There's close to 12,000 wineries in the world and many are making decent juice.  Lately, I'm all about finding the best bottle under $15.  Hope this helps.  Please let me know about your wine discoveries on the path of life.


Grilled Molasses Dijon Marinated Pork Tenderloin Wine Pairings



There's something primal about firing up the grill.  I'm not going to lie, sometimes I look for an excuse to grill something.  We've even grilled pizza just because I didn't want to use the oven.  This recipe has distinct tart flavors from the mustard in the marinade and in the sauce.  The molasses' sweetness offsets that tartness, and the marinade will caramelize during grilling.  Adding the butter at the end also cuts down the tartness of the mustard.

Because of that, wine pairings aren't as obvious.  You might think of pulling out a Pinot Noir for the pork, but mustard and Pinot don't always go.  Pinot Noir has notes of tart cherry and red raspberry...not exactly ideal with mustard.  In the interest of gauging sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umami we're looking at above average bitterness so you could go with white, red or rosé:

2010 Chateau De Fontenille Rosé

Made from 100% Cabernet Franc, you've got sweetness to offset the dijon and molasses and you have a bing cherry plus sweet strawberry (notes found in Pinot Noir) to compliment the savory pork.  Some rosé wines can be too tart and make your glands pucker but not this one.  Sweet red fruits emanate from the glass, giving hints of the acidic backbone waiting to be discovered.  It might not be the perfect wine pairing, but it can work.

2004 Delas Fréres Hermitage, Les Bessards

Sassy and spicy, racy and sultry.  Yep, Hermitage wines can be some of the most magnificant Syrahs in the world.  I like it to pair with the pork because well balanced fig, truffle and spice box notes are framed around enough muscular structure to rock and roll with the sweet and tangy marinade.  Wine can have such a beautiful purity and this one has it.  It's almost a meal in itself, but your palate will love the choreography of tantizling spices dancing racing around with every bite.