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2587

Number of miles (4163 kilometers) between Australia and New Zealand. That’s farther than San Francisco is from New York City. Although many imagine that the two countries are side-by-side, they are separated by the vast Tasman Sea (after which the island of Tasmania is named). The two countries have very little in common climatically, geologically, viticulturally—or even culturally. As many are aware, the leading grape variety in Australia is shiraz; in New Zealand, sauvignon blanc.

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0.18

Amount (in U.S.$) that a restaurant dish’s price rises for every increase of one letter in the average length of words describing that dish. Now that restaurants are cautiously reopening, you can check it out for yourself. According to Dan Jurafsky, author of the James Beard book award finalist The Language of Food, “When a restaurant uses longer words to describe a dish, it charges more for the dish.” Jurafsky is also professor and chair of linguistics and professor of computer science at Stanford.

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40

Number of times faster that humans metabolize alcohol than other primates, according to a new study, published last month in the journal Biology Letters. According to the study, humans produce an enzyme called “alcohol dehydrogenase class 4” that allows our bodies to quickly metabolize ethanol. The genetic basis of this efficient enzyme is a gene adaptation called ADH7. Most animals lack this variation, making the beasts cheap dates indeed.

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394

Current number of Masters of Wine. Over 450 people from 30 countries have become MWs since the first exam took place in 1953. MWs represent a broad diversity of professions from winemakers to wine consultants. There are three stages to the MW program, and the minimum time it takes to qualify is three years. The MW study program, offered by The Institute of Masters of Wine is now open for applications until May 29, 2020. Find details on the program and how to apply here.

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99

Percent of U.S. hazelnut crop grown in Oregon, where it is the official state nut. (The first commercial hazelnut orchard was planted there in 1903). In the last 10 years, acreage has almost tripled. More than 50% of Oregon’s hazelnuts—also known as filberts—are exported to Asia, where the nut has been revered for centuries. A nearly 5000-year old Chinese manuscript refers to hazelnuts as “among the five sacred nourishments God bestowed on man.”

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22

Pairs of shoes in Karen’s closet compared to the 900+ bottles of wine in her home cellar. To be fair, that makes 44 individual shoes, so the disparity is not as glaring as it might seem. Karen divulged this statistic in her recent live virtual tasting: Why Don’t More Women Have Wine Cellars? to both dispute the claim by many males that “men collect wine and women collect shoes” and assert that doing both is possible and necessary.

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18.3

The current surface area (in millions of acres, equal to 7.4 million hectares) of the world’s vineyards, as reported last month by the Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV).  If that was one contiguous vineyard, it would be larger than the state of West Virginia but smaller than South Carolina. Bigger than Ireland but smaller than Austria. The OIV also reported that a total of 6.9 billion gallons (260 million hectoliters) of wine were produced from those vineyards in 2019—while 6.4 billion gallons (244 mhl) was consumed.

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800

Million wireless calls per day that Verizon alone says it is now averaging during the week.  That is more than six times the average number made on Mother’s Day, historically the busiest calling day of the year (Don’t be that offspring—call this Sunday, May 10. The carrier added that the length of voice calls was also up—33 percent. It seems we are craving the sound of the human voice.

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35

Amount of additional beer (in millions of pints) that the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) estimates could have been sold in the UK in April—had lockdown measures not forced them to close—due to the unseasonably sunny weather. As it is, beer sales in UK pubs fell by 40% in March compared to last year, representing a loss of over a third of their income after just 11 days of closure. The BBPA believes last month should have been the best April for beer sales in a decade, due to it being the sunniest April on record, as well as the fifth hottest.

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75k

Number of restaurants, bars and clubs in Italy that gave the keys to their establishments to local mayors this week as part of a symbolic protest. Adopting the motto Risorgiamo Italia (Italy Rises Again), a demonstration was organized against measures that the Italian government is requiring as part of a gradual end to the Covid-19 quarantine. The government’s plan (including plexiglass panels between diners) would result in restaurants bringing in about 30% of their usual income, while facing the same operating costs.

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40

Number of days in the 14th century that ships arriving in Venice from cities affected by the plague were required to sit at anchor before landing. This practice was called “quarantine,” a word derived from the Italian quaranta giorni which means 40 days. By way of explaining the 40-day mandate, scholars point out that the number 40 has significant cultural meaning–plenty of Biblical events draw upon the number, such as Jesus’ fast in the desert, Moses’ time on Mount Sinai, and the Christian observation of Lent.

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1961

Birth of the modern Oregon wine industry.  In that year, Richard Sommer, a graduate of the University of California at Davis, planted riesling at Hillcrest Vineyard in the Umpqua Valley. Five years later, nursery owners Charles and Shirley Coury, as well as David Lett, founder of The Eyrie Vineyard, planted pinot noir in the Willamette Valley. All were warned by university professors that vinifera-species grapes would not fare well in cool climate Oregon. And with that piece of advice unheeded, the Oregon wine industry was born. May is Oregon Wine Month.