Thrillist and Josh Cellars Present: A Toast to Dad
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8 Startling Facts About Wine

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Now, you may not instantly think "startling" and "wine facts" necessarily go to together... but you'd be totally wrong, and we're here to prove it. We talked with Napa Valley vintner and Josh Cellars founder Joseph Carr to get this bevy of vino tidbits you probably had no idea were totally true.

1. There are over 3,000 native varieties of grapes in Italy

Ever wonder why it’s so difficult to learn everything about wine? It’s not just Cabernet and Chardonnay. A few thousand years of genetic evolution have given us a wondrous bounty to make great wines all over the world. "The classics (Napa Valley Cab and Sonoma Chardonnay) are the classics for a reason," notes Carr.

2. It can take up to seven years for a vine to produce fruit for creating a wine

Ever wonder why Warren Buffet has never purchased a winery? He’s got plenty of shares of consumer staple brands like Coca Cola, why not wine? It’s a tough business, and the investment cycle to recoup these long term investments is a big reason for that.

3. You won't believe where some of the best wine in the world comes from 

Château Musar in, of all places, Lebanon, makes some truly awesome vino. "But I prefer Napa and Sonoma wines," says Carr, "the best of America's wine."

4. You have American impatience to thank for good wine right out of the bottle

A lot of European-style and French wine in particular wasn’t, until relatively recently, meant to be drunk right away. Wine cellars were and are common because French wines really need to be aged longer before tasting their best. Carr notes, “Americans in particular like wine that has complexity and good fruit, but don’t want to wait 10 years for wines to evolve and loosen up.” Modern California wines are designed to taste great out of the bottle and 10 years later.

5. Wine makes itself

There’s a reason wine is considered the first ever fermented beverage: yeast that naturally occurs on grape skin will start fermenting grape juice pretty much the moment you squeeze the stuff out into a jar. It might not taste like a rich Merlot after a few months, and you might go blind, but you’ll have booze.

6. That Cabernet you’re enjoying might be made with only 50% Cabernet grapes

“In California, laws are simple,” says Carr. “It has to be 75% Cabernet grapes to be called a Cabernet.” Everywhere else? Not so simple -- especially France. Every French region has local regulations varying wildly as to what can be legally called what. Want some consistency? Stick to California. Now there’s something you never thought you’d hear about California.

7. Want wine advice? Don’t ask a sommelier

Wine tasting experiments have shown that experts can vary wildly in their opinions of the same vintage. It’s such a complicated beverage that you’re much better off trusting your own palate over that of an expert with his or her own opinions and varying levels of snootiness.


8. Ask your local wine shop instead

You’re better off asking the dudes at your local wine shop. Carr says, “You can’t find one guy who knows everything about wine. Find a good wine shop and tell them your taste. Are you willing to pay $18 for a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from California? Tell him and he’ll guide you to other things you may like.” In this case, it’s all about your taste, not some accredited expert from the school of complicated French name.