Curiosities

The taste of learning about the world of wine

discover the curiosities
  • Do you know why it is important to rinse the glass with wine?

    During the preparatory stages of wine tasting, the glass is rinsed out with a small amount of the wine to be tasted in order to eliminate all impurities present in the glass, which could affect the perception of smell and taste.

  • Do you know why grafted vines are used in viticulture?

    Most vineyards nowadays are planted with European varieties grafted onto the rootstocks of American vines and there are a number of interesting historical reasons for this.

    In 1879 the phylloxera louse, an insect that is harmful to European species of vines, was introduced into Europe and brought about a radical change in the viticultural practices of the time. It was discovered that the roots of American vines had built up resistance to the insect and therefore the varieties that produced the great European wines could be grafted onto these rootstocks so they could continue to produce. In addition to this, grafting enables vines to adapt to more difficult soil conditions and growing environments.

  • Did you know that the shape of the glass has an effect on wine tasting?

    For red wines a broad-based stem glass encourages optimum oxygenation of the wine while a slight narrowing of the glass towards the rim concentrates the aromas where they can be perceived by the nasal receptors. For white wines on the other hand a more slender shape is preferable, which keeps the wine cool and conveys the aromatic substances towards the taster.  Lastly, for sparkling wines it is important to highlight the brightness of the wine and enhance its perlage.

  • Do you know what polyphenols are?

    Polyphenols are compounds present in grape skins and whether the wine contains these or not depends on the winemaking technique used. It is the length of contact between the skins and the must that determines the polyphenol content. Polyphenols play a fundamental role in giving red wines their character, as they are responsible for the colour but also affect the nose and palate considerably. Moreover, over the last few years numerous scientific studies have been carried out that demonstrate that they possess antioxidant properties.

  • Do you know what sort of relationship women had with wine in ancient times?

    Ancient Greek and Roman women were not permitted to eat at the same table as their husbands and in Rome the mother-in-law was entitled to smell the breath of her daughter-in-law to see if it smelt of wine. Women who drank wine were considered on a par with adulteresses. Only from the Empire period were women allowed to drink vinum passum, wine made from semi-dried grapes, and sweet wines in general. Etruscan women, on the other hand, were always present at banquets, reclining on couches in the triclinium with their husbands.

  • Do you know what biodiversity is?

    Biodiversity is the degree of variation within biological species, both plant and animal, within a given area. Biodiversity is important in the vineyard because it provides a more stable, better-balanced ecosystem, which, as a result, is less prone to attacks by harmful insects and diseases.

  • Do you know why it is important to determine when to harvest the grapes?

    Grape harvesting time is highly variable and depends on the grape variety, the type of wine to be produced, climate conditions and the weather during the growing season. Establishing exactly when to harvest the grapes is essential in order to produce a high quality wine. Tests are carried out every day in the vineyard as harvesting time approaches to identify the period in which there is the best combination of sugar content, acidity, grape health and aromatic complexity.

  • Do you know what malo-lactic fermentation is?

    This is a type of fermentation by bacteria that takes place after alcoholic fermentation and is usually encouraged in red wine. During malo-lactic fermentation malic acid is converted into lactic acid (which is less tart). This rounds out and softens the wine.

  • Did you know that there are many different sized bottles for sparkling wines with specific names?

    Sparkling wine comes not only in the classic 0.75-litre bottle but also in various other bottle sizes, each of which has a particular name. The 1.5-litre size is called a Magnum, a 3-litre bottle a Jeroboam, the 4.5-litre a Rehoboam, the 6 litre a Methuselah, the 9-litre a Salmanazar, the 12-litre a Balthazar, and the 15-litre a Nebuchadnezzar. Moreover, Cavit has broken a world record, the only one of its kind, by creating an even bigger bottle, appropriately called Primato. The classification for still wines is different and is not so widely accepted.

  • Do you know what a training system is?

    A training system is the method by which a plant is trained by pruning, in other words, it is the structure that the winegrower decides to give the vine, and which will give it a characteristic shape. The most traditional training system used in Trentino is the pergola trentina, but the cordon spur system is becoming increasingly popular.

  • Do you know what the French paradox is?

    The French paradox refers to the apparently paradoxical observation that despite the relatively high consumption of saturated fats, the incidence of coronary heart disease in France is lower than in other countries with comparable diets. According to some theories, the reason for this is the higher per capita consumption of red wine amongst the French people. This property of the wine allegedly derives from its high polyphenol content (resveratrol in particular), which has strong antioxidant properties.

  • Do you know what the rim refers to in wine tasting?

    During wine tasting, the wine is also examined visually to assess its quality and age. To do this the glass should be tilted at an angle of 45 degrees against a plain white background. This will reveal the main body of the wine and the rim. The rim is the paler crescent-shaped part nearest the side of the glass, which forms on the surface of the wine when the glass is tilted. It enables more subtle nuances in colour to be identified and its width increases with age.

  • Do you know what it means when a vine is “maritata”?

    A vine that is “maritata”, which means “married” in Italian, is a system of growing vines using trees as a means of support.  This system was used by the Etruscans and remained popular in many areas until around fifty years ago. The vine grows up through other plants or trees to which it clings and requires special pruning techniques. In fact both the vine and the tree supporting it need to be pruned at the same time. Until a few years ago it was popular in Trentino to grow vines through (or “marry vines to”) elm and mulberry trees.

  • Did you know that music can affect the development of a wine?

    The famous winemaker and former M.I.T. student, Clark Smith, says it can. Clark analysed the relationship between music and wine over a period of several months. According to this curious academic, listening to music while wine tasting affects the sensitivity of our senses to the extent that it can alter our taste and perception of a wine considerably. Moreover, some producers believe that the micro vibrations created by music help with the sedimentation of residues in great wines with ageing potential.

  • Do you know what Aristolochia is?

    Aristolochia is a grassy odour that a number of wines take on either when climbing plants of the genus Aristolochia, or birthwort, growing in the vineyards get mixed in with the grapes during the grape harvest, or when the grapes are harvested before they are fully ripe.

  • Do you know how many types of wine there were in Ancient Rome?

    During Roman times only four types of wine existed, which were classified according to colour: albus (white), fulvus (reddish-yellow), sanguineus (blood red) and niger (black).

  • Do you know how much wine should be poured into a glass?

    For tasting purposes, the glass should never be filled to the top. The ideal amount is about one third of the capacity of the glass, which enables the wine to be properly oxygenated so it can release its bouquet and aromas.

  • Do you know where the name “Pinot” comes from?

    The name Pinot derives from the shape of the grape bunch. Pinot vines have tight, compact bunches in the shape of a pine cone.

  • Do you know which barrels are the best?

    The most famous oak barrels are French 225-litre barriques, made exclusively of oak from the Allier forest in France. The smaller size allows a more effective exchange to take place between the wood and the wine.

  • Do you know what second fermentation is?

    Second fermentation is the procedure by which still wine undergoes further fermentation to produce sparkling wine. It may take place in large pressurised tanks (autoclaves) or directly in the bottle, after a mixture of wine, sugars and carefully selected yeasts has been added to set off the fermentation process.

  • Do you know the legend surrounding the origins of Teroldego?

    According to legend, a ferocious dragon living high up in the mountains had been terrorising the people down in the valleys for years. One day a gallant knight stabbed the dragon and killed it. A few drops of its blood fell to the ground creating Teroldego.

  • Do you know what Metodo Classico is?

    Metodo Classico (also known as the traditional method, or méthode champenoise, after the French Champagne region) is a sparkling wine production process in which a small amount of wine, sugar and selected yeasts (liqueur de tirage) is added to the base wine to induce second fermentation in the bottle. The added yeast and sugar mixture ferments producing carbon dioxide, which is responsible for the sparkle or perlage (“bubbles”). The dead yeast cells are eliminated by first of all gradually causing them slide down into the bottleneck (a process called remouage), which is then frozen. This causes a sort of plug of ice containing the sediment to the formed, which is then forced out under pressure (dégorgement). At this point the traditional mushroom cork is inserted to maintain the sparkling wine under pressure.

  • Do you know what the term Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) means?

    Wines with the DOCG (Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita) designation must have had DOC status for at least five years. Additionally they should be of higher quality than the average of the same wines classified as DOC and have acquired a degree of popularity and commercial value at national and international level. As well as undergoing the chemical, physical and organoleptic testing required for the DOC wine designation during the production stage, these wines must be subject to further analyses during the bottling phase and lastly, sensory analysis (tasting) by a special tasting committee.

  • Do you know which grape varieties are the most widely planted in Italy?

    In Italy the most common red grape varieties are Nebbiolo, Barbera, Sangiovese, Primitivo and Montepulciano; the most popular whites are Trebbiano, Vermentino, Vernaccia and Moscato.

  • Do you know where the name Merlot comes from?

    The name Merlot derives from merlo, the Italian word for blackbird. The grape variety acquired its name from the fact that blackbirds are particularly fond of its berries.

  • Do you know how long it takes for a vine to start producing optimum yields?

    The young vines (known as rooted vines when they are purchased from a nursery) start to produce around the 3rd or 4th year of age; by the 6th year they produce optimum yields.

  • Do you know what remouage is?

    Remouage, or riddling, is the process of moving the yeast sediment to the neck of bottles of sparkling wine produced using the classic or traditional method so that it can be removed. It consists of inserting the bottles in special racks, formed by hinged boards (called pupitres) with angled holes in them, into which the bottle-necks are inserted. These are then gradually inclined from a horizontal to a vertical position with the bottles pointing downwards, so that the sediment is collected in the neck. During this period, the bottles are given a gentle shake and rotated slightly clockwise each day in order to dislodge the sediment and help it slide down into the bottleneck.

  • Do you know which civilisations were the first to develop wine production?

    The oldest evidence of vine cultivation has been found on the banks of the Caspian Sea and in Eastern Turkey. The first documents concerning vine growing date back to 1700 B.C., but it was only with the Ancient Egyptians that vines actually started to be cultivated and wine as a result started to be produced. Under the Roman Empire, wine production underwent further development and wine became a popular drink.

  • Do you know what the terms “Classico”, “Riserva” and “Superiore” mean?

    These terms are given to wines that offer that little bit “extra” over and above the requirements set out in the official winemaking regulations. For example, the term “Classico” applies to certain DOC or DOCG wines whose vineyards are in the original, classic part of the territory where that particular type of DOC/DOCG can be made. The term “Riserva” is given to wines aged for a longer period than stipulated in the winemaking regulations. The term “Superiore” is reserved for wines that have a higher alcohol content.