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Answer: True.

At least it’s one of the leading theories behind glass clinking. This theory considers that at the time of the Roman Empire, poisoned beverages were the modus operandi for assassinating unwanted political or economic rivals.  By the Middle Ages, a kind of “poison epidemic” had grown, stimulated by the increased availability of medicinally-suspect ingredients from apothecaries throughout Europe. At about the same time, Arabs developed an odorless and transparent form of arsenic; woe to the Crusaders.  Thus, self-preservation dictated that a visitor would insist his host drink some of what was poured for the visitor himself.  Once the host drank “successfully,” the guest could imbibe with confidence.  Eventually, in situations when the guest trusted the host, the process was done away with and supplanted by clinking—an acknowledgement that all was safe.

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Answer: False.

Answer: False. A château is a single estate composed of vineyards surrounding a building where the wine is made. The word château is commonly used in Bordeaux, and some châteaux can be quite palatial (although they don’t have to be). The word domaine is generally used in Burgundy. A domaine is a collection of vineyard parcels, all of which are owned by the same person or entity. Usually these parcels are small and are not connected to one another.

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Answer: True.

But just barely. A glass of wine is typically 5 ounces. A 5-ounce glass of red wine averages about 110 calories, whereas a glass of white wine usually clocks in around 104 calories. Hey, it’s the holidays! You can diet (or better yet, exercise more) later in January.

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Answer: True.

Sometimes known as the Grog Mutiny, the 1826 Eggnog Riot is a tale largely unknown to the Military Academy’s current students, according to the school’s historian.  At the annual Christmas party in 1826, students smuggled in a bootlegger’s load of whiskey to spike the eggnog, despite the fact that the Superintendent, Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, had banned alcohol from campus earlier that year.  Several hours into the evening, all hell broke loose.  Two officers were assaulted; banisters were torn from stairways, and windows, furniture and tableware were smashed.  Within a month, 19 of the 90 cadets involved were court-marshaled and ultimately, 11 were expelled.  An “eggnog defense” was not mounted, although it may have simply been the last straw for the cadets after enduring other prohibitions on tobacco, novels, and dueling.

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Answer: False.

The names are so similar, that it’s easy to confuse these two wines. But they are made from different grapes and grown in different places. Pouilly Fuissé (poo-EE FWE-say) is made from chardonnay grapes and comes from France’s Burgundy region. It is characteristically round and sumptuous, with a slightly nutty and floral aroma. Pouilly Fumé (poo-EE FOO-may), on the other hand, is made from sauvignon blanc grapes grown in the Loire Valley. It tends to be lean and crisp, with a refreshingly flinty and mineral character. Pouilly Fuissé and Pouilly Fumé do have one thing in common: the pair fantastically well with shrimp, lobster, and other shellfish.

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Answer: False.

Although 750 milliliters is the standard capacity for wine bottles today, this wasn’t always the case. Historically, wine was stored in many different types of vessels of varying sizes. During the Middle Ages, as the wine trade increasingly fell under governmental regulations, measurements became somewhat standardized. The impetus for this was financial. Governments realized that by standardizing the contents of bottles, wine could be more easily counted. And if it could be counted easily, it could also be taxed easily. But why 750 milliliters exactly? There are several hypotheses. One popular theory holds that 750 milliliters correlates with the average ability of a glass-blower’s lungs to create a bottle in one steady blow.

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Answer: False.

The British word claret comes from the French clairet, referring to a light red wine. Historically, the British used the term to distinguish Bordeaux wine from Port which of course was usually much darker in color. And in any case, the term could probably not refer to a medieval French name for cabernet sauvignon since cabernet sauvignon is not thought to have existed before the beginning of the 16th century.

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Answer: False.

These two terms are commonly used in Burgundy, and although both delineate a plot of land, they mean slightly different things. A lieu dit (le DEE) is a place defined by its topography or history. (The words lieu dit mean “place name”). The word climat (klee-MA) is used to describe a place by its climate and soil.

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Answer: False.

The indispensable ingredient in a martini, vermouth was first created and commercially sold in the Piedmont region of Italy in the 1700’s. Until it was banned, in the early 20th century due to its potential psychoactive toxicity, vermouth commonly contained wormwood. In fact, the word vermouth comes from the German word wermut, meaning “wormwood.”

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Answer: True.

We know, it sounds bad; but it isn’t. Isinglass, a substance obtained by drying the bladders of sturgeons, is sometimes used in winemaking, particularly for clarifying and fining wines. Winemakers can use a number of substances for this purpose—among them, casein (a milk protein), egg whites, and bentonite (an absorptive clay).

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Answer: True.

With 42 DOCs (Denomination of Controlled Origin) and 17 DOCGs (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin), Piedmont has the largest number of DOC/G wines in Italy.  The region is considered among the best when it comes to wine quality. Piedmont was one of the first regions in Italy to focus on single-vineyard wines and the region wins the highest number of important wine awards per year of any region in Italy. (Tuscany is the only other region that comes close).

 

New True or False questions are posted every Thursday on my Facebook & Twitter pages.

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Answer: False.

Both sparkling wines and Champagne can be “corked”—that is, tainted with TCA, the chemical that creates a funky odor that makes wines smell like a wet dog sitting on wet newspapers in a damp cellar. In fact, according to the French consulting oenologist and TCA expert Dr. Pascal Chatonnet, TCA is actually easier to smell in sparkling wines than in still wines. This is because sparklers are more aromatically delicate and also because the bubbles have the effect of volatilizing the compound, that is, making it smell more pronounced. 

According to Dr. Chatonnet, TCA can be smelled in still wines at a threshold of 2 to 5 nanograms per liter, whereas TCA can be smelled in sparklers at a threshold of 1 to 1.5 nanograms per liter.

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Answer: False.

False. True Port is a sweet fortified wine that must come from the Douro Valley of northern Portugal, in the same way that true Champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France. The Ports produced in the Douro are majestic-deep, complex, rich, thick, and thoroughly hedonistic-and considered among the most sophisticated wines in the world. In California, sweet fortified wines are made, but they aren’t Port. Confusingly, many of these wines used to be called “Port,” and some still are, despite the fact that in 2006, the United States Tax and Trade Bureau recognized the international agreement prohibiting domestic producers from using the generic terms “Port” or “Port-style” on fortified wine labels.

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Answer: False.

The wine industry in the U.S. alone is a huge industry valued at close to $20 billion and employing some 2 million people.  Within the industry are dozens of occupations from finance and human resources, to viticulture and quality control, to sales and marketing, to education and communications. Most of these jobs don’t require a sommelier certification. That said, the people who buy wine professionally and create and manage wine programs in the hospitality industry (sommeliers), are a key part of the wine industry. Currently, there are some 11,000 people who have passed the Certified Sommelier Examination and 172 who are certified at the highest level, as “Master Sommeliers” by the Court of Master Sommeliers in the Americas.

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Answer: True.

Although the Napa Valley is a small region and produces just 4% of all California wine, it does lead in cabernet acreage. According to the California Agricultural Statistics Service, Napa had 21,665 acres of cabernet sauvignon as of 2018. Second in line was San Luis Obispo County (which includes Paso Robles) with 14,752 acres. Yes, Sonoma is third with 12,478 acres.

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Answer: False.

It’s the other way around. Chianti Classico is far smaller than Napa Valley—both in the overall size of the region and in planted acres of vineyards. The Chianti Classico zone is just 177,500 acres (71,800 hectares) in total size. By contrast Napa is 500,000 acres (202,343 hectares) overall. In planted acres of vineyard, Chianti Classico has 17,290; Napa has 45,000. (7,200 hectares versus 18,211 hectares). Correspondingly, about 3 million cases of Chianti Classico are made every year, while 9 million cases of Napa Valley wine are made.  Of course, the denomination Chianti Classico is just a small central zone in the “heart” of Tuscany. The separate denomination Chianti is spread over a much larger area within Tuscany. If the statement had been “Napa Valley is smaller than Chianti,” the answer, shockingly enough, would have still been FALSE. Chianti covers 35,237 acres (14,266 hectares), about 10,000 acres less than the Napa Valley. All of this just goes to show how tiny many of the world’s top wine regions are, for Napa Valley accounts for just 4 percent of all the wine made in California and 0.4 % of all the wine made in the world.

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Answer: False.

Admittedly, this is splitting hairs. However, although they are pink in color, white zinfandel falls into a category that the wine industry calls “blush wines.” Blush wines are usually low in acidity (not very crisp, in other words) and slightly sweet. They’re easy to drink, but many wine experts would liken them to adult soda pop. Rosés are totally different—usually crisp and bone-dry. Both of these characteristics make dry rosés fabulous for pairing with a wide variety of foods.

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Answer: False.

Not exactly. Hairy grenache, or garnacha peluda in Spain and lledoner pelut in the Languedoc Roussillon region of France, is a (good) clone of grenache that has particularly hairy leaves. Like the furry fuzz found on rosemary and other Mediterranean plants, the “fur” evolved as a defense mechanism to protect the vine from heat and conserve moisture. The clone is native to the Spanish region of Catalonia. Wines made from hairy grenache often have a lower alcohol content, but the clone is customarily blended with regular (non-hairy) clones of grenache.

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Answer: False.

While the two words are often used interchangeably to refer to especially prized soils in certain places (like parts of Champagne, Burgundy and the Loire Valley), the two are not exactly the same. Chalk is a type of limestone, but not all limestone is chalk. Limestone is a marine sedimentary rock made in part from marine skeletons that are high in calcium. Chalk, along with marl and marble, is a type of limestone. Chalk is soft and porous, so vine roots penetrate it easily.

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Answer: True.

Bordeaux has several classification systems, including the most famous—the 1855 Classification which ranked the 60 top châteaux of the Médoc and one château—Haut-Brion—in Graves. However, the famous commune of Pomerol (where, among other great estates, Château Pétrus is located) was never classified.