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Wine Statistics and Fun Numbers

Some old wine statistics

They stay statistics are boring. But they can show what is happening. Wine is continuing to grow in popularity. Keep reading for more numbers. When you get bored, crack out the bottle. And remember, fine wines are ideal gifts for dad.

This section gives you an idea of the numbers surrounding wine. Let’s start with some fundamental statistics. And let's not worry about Benjamin Disraeli's and Mark Twain's famous quote "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."

There are 24,000 names for varieties of wine grapes, corresponding to between 5,000 and 10,000 actual varieties. However, only about 150 are commercially important.

One bottle of wine contains about 25.6 ounces, or for those whose think in metric terms 0.75 liters. This is usually considered to be 4 glasses. As a rule of thumb, it takes about 2.4 pounds of grapes (usually 600 to 800 grapes) to produce a bottle of wine.

There is no need to learn how to overcome an addiction to alcohol when you're a moderate and responsible drinker in the first place.

Looking at wine production another way, there are about eight bunches of grapes per bottle or three to five bottles per average grapevine.

Be careful about averages, the actual numbers vary widely. For example, Chateau d’Yquem, the most famous estate in Sauternes region of France, produces approximately one bottle of wine from eight vines. But what a bottle, this wine is generally considered the world’s greatest sweet wine, and has merited a unique rating for over 150 years.

What about acres? On the average an acre of land produces 5 tons of grapes, or, in other terms, a little less than four thousand bottles of wine. In other words, if you drank a bottle of wine a day, it would take eleven years to consume the output of a one acre vineyard.

Wine grapes are the single most widely planted fruit crop. There are 20 million acres of grapes planted worldwide, just about enough to supply every adult living in the United States with a bottle a day. Not that we are suggesting…

In actual fact, the US ranks 33rd in per capita wine consumption at 2.088 gallons a year, which works out to about 10.5 bottles per person per year. In contrast, Luxembourg leads the world in per capita wine consumption, beating the US by a factor of more than 7.5 to 1. The non-Moslem country reporting the lowest per capita wine consumption is Mexico, at less than a glass of wine per person per year.

One single variety, Airén, an undistinguished white grape, is planted on more than one million acres in central Spain. This acreage is approximately twice that devoted to grape plantings in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

The Languedoc-Roussilion region of southern France produces more wine than does the entire United States.

One 6.4-ounce glass of typical white wine contains about 133 calories; while a glass of a typical red contains about 141 calories. In contrast, that much grape juice contains about 131 calories. So you won’t lose much weight by switching from wine to grape juice.

A typical grape berry is, by weight, 75% pulp, 20 % skin, and 5% seeds. Small grapes such as Pinot Noir have a larger portion of skin to pulp.

When grapes ferment into wine, the most important chemical reaction is the transformation of sugar into alcohol. A typical wine contains 86% water, 11.2% alcohol, and 2.8% of all the other compounds that make the wine a wine, instead of colored firewater.

Chemists have identified over 250 compounds in wine, making it more complex than blood serum.

Complex or not, people don’t want to wait for a wine's components to evolve. Over 90% of the world’s wine is consumed within two years of its vintage date. Don’t get me wrong, there is no point waiting for most wines to evolve over the years, they won’t.

In spite of the great interest in wine storage, including a wide variety of cellars, racks, and refrigerators, it is estimated that 98% of all wine sold is consumed within a single week of purchase.

In 2000, California had more than half a million acres devoted to grapevines.

The California wine industry provides about 150,000 jobs. This may not be surprising when you consider that more than 160 countries import California wines.

Napa Valley recently surpassed Disneyland as California’s No. 1 tourist destination with 5.5 million visitors a year.

While California is the American state producing by far the most wine, all fifty states can claim at least one commercial winery.

There are approximately 49 million bubbles in an average bottle of sparkling wine, but an estimated 250 million bubbles in a bottle of Champagne.

All these bubbles generate about 90 pounds per square inch pressure in a bottle of Champagne, approximately three times the pressure in your automobile tires.

Typical dessert wines range from 5 to 30 percent residual sugar.

The Hungarian Tokaji Esszencia, one of the world’s finest dessert wines, contains up to 85% residual sugar. Only a special strain of yeast is able to ferment it, ever so slowly. One must wait decades for Tokaji Esszencia to attain 5 or 6 percent of alcohol. I am told that it is worth the wait.

A one-inch cube of cork contains about 200 million fourteen-sided cells filled with air.

A cork tree is first harvested at about age twenty-five years. Subsequent harvests occur once every nine years for a total of about fifteen harvests. Can anyone claim to taste the difference between a wine sealed with a cork from a twenty-five year old tree and the same wine sealed with a cork from a one hundred sixty year old tree?

Portugal is by far the main source of wine corks. At one time it produced thirteen billion of them per year.

A good sommelier won’t grimace when extracting a cork using a waiter’s corkscrew, even though the extraction requires between 50 and 100 pounds of pulling force.

Italy has about 900,000 registered vineyards, and more than a thousand grape varieties.

Only one major city in the world includes a commercially significant wine region-Vienna, Austria whose city limits enclose more than 1,700 acres of grapes. Nearly everyone admits the most impressive aspect of Viennese wine is its geographic origin, Vienna.

Grapevines don’t produce good wine grapes until they are at least three or four years old. If properly maintained they may continue producing for a century. As the vine ages, the yield tends to decrease, but the quality may improve.

A glass of wine served between 44º and 59º F ( 6.6º and 15º C) warms up a degree Fahrenheit approximately every seven minutes until reaching room temperature. A wine served between 39º and 44º F (4º and 6.6º C) gains a degree approximately every four minutes.

Experts recommend storing wine at a constant temperature of 55º F / 13º C and humidity of 70 to 75 percent.

As a rule of thumb, grapes grown in higher altitudes lead to higher acidity.

The temperature falls by falls 1.8ºF (1ºC) for every 330 feet (100 meters) above sea level, which may require an extra 10 to 15 days in the field for the grapes to ripen.

At 3000 meters (9900 feet) the Colome vineyard in Argentina is the highest in the world. In this case, the previous rule clearly does not apply; there aren’t enough days in the year.

In contrast, in most of Europe 1600 feet (480 meters) is considered the upper limit for ripening.

We finish this section with a surprising statistic that may disappoint you at first. Even under favorable climatic conditions, up to 85 percent of a vine’s flowers die without setting, never becoming grapes. Just think what would happen if half of the flowers set. These extra grapes would compete for the fixed nutrients available to the given vine. The resulting wine would be considerably diluted. In fact, producers of fine wines often remove excess grapes to help concentrate the power and glory of those that remain.

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Wine is chock full of interesting and often surprising facts, factoids, and statistics. Some would call it trivia, but this wine information is hardly trivial. Spark up your next wine tasting party with wine information.