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.

HOW TO Taste Wine Like a Sommelier

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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":

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Conclusion

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.

Cheers!

5 Tips to participating in #Chardonnay day May 26th

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Thursday May 26th, 2011 will be the second annual global celebration of Chardonnay known as #Chardonnay day.  The hope is for this idea (along with #Cabernet day) can grow into annual holidays.  Anyone who loves wine is welcome to participate in #Chardonnay day, all you need is some wine in your glass.  Register here - #Chardonnay page

 

Here's some tips on how to be part of the global celebration:

  1. Organize a get together at your home, winery, restaurant or wine shop.  Add it to the Meetup.com/Chardonnay list so others know where to go.

  2. On May 26th, share any photos, videos, blog posts or any other stuff making sure to include #Chardonnay in your posting.  You can post on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Wordpress, Plancast, Foursquare, Gowalla or any other social media site.

  3. See what other people are saying by searching "#Chardonnay" on Google, search.twitter.com, Tweetdeck, kurrently or Twitterfall.

  4. Get wines like Chardonnay, White Burgundy, Blanc de Blancs (or other sparkling made with Chardonnay) and get friends together to geek out.

  5. Have fun.  It's like a giant dining room table where everyone can pull up a chair and join the conversation.

That's all there is to it.  You'll be seeing wine lovers and wineries talking to each other.  This community will come together for one day only, so make the most of it!  It's your chance to connect with fellow wine lovers.  See you online or in person May 26th.  Cheers!

HOW TO participate in virtual wine tastings on Twitter

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Over the next few weeks there will be a series of virtual wine tastings taking place on Twitter. Anyone with a bottle of wine and a Twitter account can join in. All you need to know is the time and the hash tag.

For example, on Sunday March 27th there's a virtual wine tasting called #HunterWine. Wine lovers on Twitter will be sharing stuff about wines from the Hunter Valley in Australia.

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Here's how you can participate:

1. Get wine for the virtual wine tasting. Whole Foods carries the wines for #HunterWine, #YarraWine & #BarossaWine.

2. Search the hash tag using things like search.twitter.com or Tweetdeck. See what other people are saying, because they'll be adding the hash tag to their tweets to make 'em searchable.

3. Post tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos or anything else online and make sure you include the hash tag.

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You don't have to be at the actual wine tasting. You can physically be at home tasting wine, all you need is Twitter. The key to participating is the hash tag. Using a hash tag like #HunterWine makes the subject searchable. During these virtual tastings, you'll be able to tweet back and forth with winemakers in Australia and ask them questions about the wines, the region or anything.
Hope to see you online! It's going to be like a giant virtual dining room table and everyone is invited...
Cheers

Getting the most out of virtual wine tastings

There are 3 virtual Australian wine tastings coming up at the end of March and early April are a golden opportunity for anyone who's in the wine business.  Wineries, sommeliers, retailers, importers and restaurants can realize ROA (return on attention) by following a few steps.

If you've never participated in a virtual wine tasting, the idea is simple—get a bottle (or bottles) of wine, taste and tweet along with other people at the same time on Twitter.  The reason why you'd want to participate is to capture the attention of participants while it's happening.  If the virtual tasting is planned properly, it's possible to have significant reach.

With traditional media, ad dollars are spent on reach.  If we run an ad in a magazine, we're paying for the reach of that magazine.  If we run an ad on television, we're paying for the reach of that station.

With new media, we can create our own reach through our fans and followers.  When virtual tastings are orchestrated correctly, we can create a wide reach by bringing together an audience for a defined period of time.  For #Cabernet day we had 3,000-5,000 participants who all had their own followings.  If we average each person with a following of 300 friends/followers a conservative estimate for reach was 900,000 people (3,000 x 300).  The upside is the community can scale up to an unlimited numbers.  The downside is once the tasting is over, the community disbands.  So we have to be ready to seize the opportunity.  Here's some tips for maximizing the reach before, during and after:

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1. Search the hash tag (listen)-

Search for each hash tag while the virtual tasting is going on to "hear" what others are saying.  Use Twitter Search, TweetDeck or kurrently to track the tag.  Personally, I like Twitterfall.com to put up on a monitor for others to see or TweetDeck on my laptop.  I watch to see what others' experiences are.

2. Prepare content ahead of time (share)-

Videos, blog posts, recipes or any other educational content can be created ahead of time, then posted during the virtual tasting.  For example, during the #YarraWine virtual tasting wineries can do videos about their vineyards, soil or climate then post them during the virtual tasting.  Because people are searching the hash tag, the content is likely to be seen by someone.  You may even end up chatting with them real time during the virtual tasting to continue the conversation.

3. Share real time experiences -

What wine or wines are you drinking?  Share photos of the label, including the hash tag.  Share your impressions of the wine, including the hash tag.  For example, during the #HunterWine virtual tasting I'll be interviewing winemakers in the Hunter Valley and posting the short vids online during the tasting.

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For wineries or wine shops wanting to sell wine there are different strategies on how to make it happen before, during and after.  Before any sales, coupons or offers can be made, there must be a level of trust with the online community.  The worst thing anyone can do is start blasting out offers.  If, and only IF the winery or wine shop is engaged with their community through lots of @ replies and one-to-one communications can they even think about selling anything.

If there's a healthy level of connection, then taste packs can be sold ahead of time.  If a winery is hosting a virtual tasting, they can offer wines on-site at a promotional price.  The most powerful use of new media is what happens after the virtual tasting.  A savvy winery or wine shop will make the most of the opportunity and engage as many participants as they can.  This is a targeted community of people who are participating—the community has already told us they like wine because they opted in to the tasting.  Create Twitter lists or maintain communication with participants to grow the brand's own following.

7 Things to Look for in Wine

Here's the qualities I look for when evaluating a wine:

Balance - Like a good movie, a good wine has tension between the elements.  When the components have equal tension between opposing forces it creates more drama, which means more interesting stories to tell.

Precision - When you look through binoculars you have to adjust the dials to bring things into focus.  How well did the winemaker bring the wine into focus?  How well is the grape representing typicity for where it was grown?

Distinction - What gives the wine it's personality?  For example, a Burgundy is a thing that has a familiar distinction.

Complexity - How does the wine unfold on your palate?

Length - Here's a word you often hear associated with "finish".  What is the wine's volume of impact?  If its length were a graph how would it look?  How long would it take for the wine to fade away from your taste buds?

X-Factor - Here's where the winemaker adds their personality.  If the wine were a dancer, how would its choreography appear on your palate?  Is it a black swan or a white swan?

Sense of Place - A wine should express its sense of place and connect you with it.  A Pinot Noir from Oregon will express sense of place differently than a Pinot Noir from France.  How well does the wine do it?

What do you look for in a wine?  Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

HOW TO engage a global audience

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Social gatherings used to be limited only to people in a single physical location like a bar or conference.  Now social gatherings extend past the walls of one location to the online social sites where conversation around a single subject can be scaled up. “Tweetups” blur the lines between in-person and online participation. For businesses big and small, these global niche events — such as Mashable’s Social Media Day or St. Supéry's #Cabernet Day, can be a great way to target and connect with people around a single subject.

On September 2nd, St. Supéry winery used meetup.com to engage people around the world in a celebration of wine called #Cabernet day.  Over a 24 hour period, over a thousand online wine drinkers and people at 75 real life meetups all posted messages across social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, Gowalla and YouTube.

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Mobilizing a global audience online and offline can be organized by one or two people using these strategies:

Find a common passion- Commonality leads to community.  Find your community using search tools Twitter Search, Yahoo Upcoming, Facebook or Plancast.

Have one central RSVP page- Keep it simple by driving everyone to one single page.  One page is easier to measure metrics from and it’s easier to organize one single event, even with multiple locations.  Jazz the page up a bit by adding a Twitter stream of tweets featuring the hash tag. Popular RSVP sites for social events are:

Eventbrite.com – Eventbrite is a solid option for posting and tracking RSVP’s.  Organizers can customize their page with graphics, Google Analytics, custom headers, links to the organizer and export tools for attendees to export to their calendar and announce it on their social sites.

MogoTix.com – Deliver tickets to attendees on their phones.  MogoTix will text you an image of your ticket with a scanable QR code.

Establish a unique short hash tag- Hash tags are the thread that hold the online conversations together.  They’re also what make a global conversation possible.  Every tweet, Facebook post, location check in or blog post in any country can be tracked real time using Twitter Search, Tweetdeck, or Booshaka for Facebook.  No matter where people are located, they can send or search posts using the hash tag.

Add the hash tag to the tagalus.com directory and open a search column in Tweetdeck to track the tag.

Engage participants- Online conversations work well when they’re extensions of in-person interactions.  Facilitate satellite events in different cities.  For #Cabernet, meetup.com/anywhere was used to schedule in-person gatherings in cities around the globe.  In the meetup descriptions, attendees were prompted on what the bigger social media message was and which hashtag to use.  For global events, it’s a good idea to make it a full day so “attendees” in different time zones can plan accordingly.  Another great tool is Plancast.  Plancast.com has a similar feel as Twitter, but instead of tweets you post plans.  People can subscribe to your plans, and they can opt in.

Add a Twitter stream everyone can see- Duing the event, make the conversation visual.  No matter how loud it is in a venue or a tweetup, you can still see what people are saying.  Twitter streams are often projected onto a large screen to show the real time conversation.  Twitterfall.com displays tweets with a keyword (you define) in a constant stream similar to a water fall.  You can set more than one search term—each one will be color-coded.

Share the Love- If you want to witness the power of social media, give all sponsors, hosts and contributors visibility equally.  You create a community-driven event where everyone has a vested interest in the overall success.  Show the logos of contributors on the main (Eventbrite) page, so they in turn have a reason to promote the event to their community.  The more they promote the event, the more they’ll collectively drive a larger audience to the main event page.

Have additional tools for engaging a global audience?  Leave them in the comments below.

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3 Ways to Participate in #Cabernet Day

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Thursday September 2nd is #Cabernet day on social media sites around the globe.  A popular question I keep getting is “how do I be a part of it?”  Here’s a few quick tidbits to give you the how and why of #Cabernet day:

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1. Use the #Cabernet Hash Tag in Your Posts:

Post tweets, videos, Facebook posts, blog posts and check-ins including the “#Cabernet” hash tag on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Foursquare, Gowalla and others.  This is one half of the conversation.  You want to send out messages about Cabernet.  For wineries, this can be content about your vineyard, winemaker, terroir, recipes, etc..  For wine drinkers, this can be what you’re tasting or who you’re tasting it with.

2. Search the #Cabernet Hash Tag:

If sending posts with “#Cabernet” is the first half of the online conversation, tracking the hash tag is the other half.  It’s all about talking and listening, but using social tools to do it.  On Twitter you can use Tweetdeck, Twitter Search, Google, Twitterfall, Radian6, JIVE, etc to see what people are saying.

3. Engage!

Like Brian Solis says, Engage!  You have hundreds, maybe thousands of people talking about Cabernet.  Find people you want to connect with and engage with them.  “Like” Facebook posts, RT tweets, share or reply to other people’s postings.

You have a captive audience all tuned in to the same thing.  It’s an opportunity to form new connections online.

Why would you want to do this?  A large, captive audience will be talking about the same thing at the same time.  Technology allows us to find and connect with people we want to keep connected with going forward.

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5 Social Media Tips for Wineries & Wine Shops

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Few things bring people together like food and drink.  From the Roman empire on up through the ages to now, wine has served as the common thread that weaves together society though social gatherings.  Birthday parties, annual holidays, business functions, family dinners or just hanging with friends are settings where wine and conversation are likely to be found.

That bodes well for wineries and wine shops wanting to build their brand in social media.  The wine industry has a bit of an unfair advantage over other industries.  If we were using social media to talk about tires it wouldn't be nearly as sexy as talking about Chardonnay.

I've seen dozens of wineries who are trying to make sense out of social media and utilize what limited time they have to do something, anything just to avoid being left behind.  Well open up your mouths baby birds, because I've got a big fat night crawler for you.  Well, five actually.  Here's some answers to the test:

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1. Be Patient - It can work.  But it's not going to happen overnight.  The best analogy I can give is the example of planting vines.  You don't plant vines, then turn around and say, "where's my grapes?".  You have to wait 3-5 years before your vines produce fruit you can use.

Luckily, you don't have to wait 3-5 years for your social media vines to produce fruit, but you do have to nurture it and let your social presence grow organically.  If you do that, your social media presence will produce fruit consistently.  It's hard for winery owners to commit 100% to this concept, which is why some of them are failing at it, and ultimately writing off social media as a fad.

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2. Build Trust First, Then Sell Wine (maybe) - This is the secret.  It's the answer to the million dollar question.  It might blow your mind when I tell you in the past 12 months St. Supéry winery has offered to sell wine through social media a total of three times.  Yet, people are buying our wine and sales are up.  They're buying for a number of reasons, including the hard work of our CEO, VP of Sales, National Accounts guy, price adjustments, new winemaker and our stellar visitor center.  Social Media and Marketing is one cog in the engine.

The worst thing you can do is get online, then start pushing your product.  Nothing will dissuade trust faster.  In fact, that's literally the opposite of what this is all about.  As soon as someone opts in either by following on Twtiter or becoming a fan on Facebook, that is the beginning of a personal relationship.  That's the beginning of trust building.  You have to put faith in knowing your trust will create a tighter bond with consumers, which in turn will lead to sales.

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3. Establish a Personality - Wine drinkers would prefer to see a face or hear a voice.  If it's the winemaker, even better.  If it's the chef or owner, that's a great start.  Just putting the winery label out there is okay, but it's not very personal.  The consumer wants to get to know the people behind the brand.

Videos and photos are going to happen.  Attending wine and social media events is going to happen.  Before a consumer opens up their wallet, they want to know who they're buying from.  Adding the human element to interactions with customers through the face(s) of the winery allows the winery to show they care and are transparent.

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4. The Right Person isn't a Millennial - One of the biggest misconceptions is you need someone in their 20's.  It might seem like a good idea because twenty-somethings are cheaper to hire and are the main users of social media, right?  Wrong.  The largest demographic of wine drinkers online are women 35-55.  I'm a 40-year old male, and having some successes in this arena.  Gary Vaynerchuk is a 30-year old male and definitely having successes.  The right person is someone with emotional intelligence to responsibly represent a brand publicly.

I'm not saying someone right out of college won't work, just get someone for the right reasons.  This person is going to be holding your brand in their hands, which is why I tend to lean towards hiring someone internally rather than a so-called social media marketing firm or social media "guru".  Anyone who refers to themselves as such should give you reason to run in the other direction.

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5. Promote Everyone but Yourself - I'm really fortunate to work for the Skalli family at St. Supéry.  They understand we can't just talk about ourselves all day because that would be boring and one dimensional.  We often talk about everyone and everything but ourselves.  It blows people's minds when we promote our competitors online.  We do it because we're stewards of a legacy of collaborators.  Before any of us were born, grape growers used to work together and help each other out.  Luckily, in the realm of social media, you're rewarded for doing that.

If I had to guestimate, I'd say a winery's brand has little better than a 1:1 return on effort when self promoting.  But you get better than 2:1 when promoting members of the community.  Imagine that, you get rewarded for being positive and supportive.  Pretty cool concept.

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