Fun wine facts:
• What country grows most grapes? Italy with 7,813 million metric tons, followed by U.S. with 6,640 million. Turkey and Iran are surprise competitors because of table grape/raisin production. Turks grow—and probably originated—sultana grapes, called “Thompson seedless” in U.S.
• What country plants most acreage of wine grapes? Spain wins because grape types and land-water situation causes Spaniards to space vines further apart. Spain plants 1,200,000 hectares (about 4,600 square miles; larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined), followed by France with 830,000 hectares, Italy with 770,000, and U.S. with 380,000.
• What country grows most varieties of wine grapes? Italy easy winner, producing from some 1,200 grape varieties. Confirms why Italian wines are so confusing and so interesting.
• What country produces most wine? According to Wine Institute, France leads with 4.63 million liters, followed by Italy with 4.58—but they trade leadership; call it tie. Followed by Spain (3.6), United States (2.65), Argentina (1.63), Australia (1.07), Germany (.93), South Africa (.922), Chile (.884), Portugal (.587), and Russia (.540).
• What country drinks most wine? Total volume: U.S. (2.9 million liters), France (2.89), Italy (2.45), Germany (2.0), United Kingdom (1.32), Russia (1.15), Spain (1.06), Argentina (.91).
Per capita in countries with populations over five million: France (45.7 liters—or 61 bottles per person each year), Italy (42.3 liters), Portugal (41.8), Switzerland (38.2), Denmark (35.1), Austria (29.2), Greece (27.5), Belgium (27.3), Spain (26.2). United States is way down the list at 9.4.
• Navarro Correas Malbec Calección Privada 2010. Red cherry, blackberry, chocolate-vanilla; medium weight, soft tannin, very easy drinker; nice value. $11
• Peter Lehmann Art Series Moscato 2011. Sweet, fresh, soft, smooth; tropical fruit, simple pear; pleasing, uncomplicated sweet white. $13
• Bonterra Zinfandel 2010. Blueberry, plum, spice, toasty oak, firm tannins; dry, balance, structure; easy drinker from leading organic maker. $16
Last round (new feature with reverential bow to late Ross McSwain, friend and fellow columnist): I drink a glass of wine each night for my health. The other glasses are for my hilarious wit and sparkling personality.