Some winsome wine facts to amuse and entertain you over your morning cup of coffee or evening sips of wine:
• DNA analyses of wine varieties got rolling in the 1990s, ushering in surprises and insights. For instance, pinot noir, pinot blanc, pinot gris/grigio are the same grape. Mutations changed the color, but according to DNA, they are the same grape.
• Ongoing DNA studies of grapes indicates today there are some 2,000 unique wine grapes in the world, but some scientists predict eventually we will identify up to 5,000. If you take the 2,000 so far identified and attempted to drink a new variety each week, it would take you almost 40 years to try them all.
• Although their market shares slightly slipped recently, the three biggest U.S. wine producers—Gallo, The Wine Group, and Constellation Brands—produce more than half of the wine consumed in the U.S.
• E&J Gallo controls 17 percent of U.S. sales, and its Barefoot brand accounts for almost five percent of all the wine consumed in this country.
• There are more than 10,000 wineries in the U.S. Take out the top 50, and the other 9,950-plus sold 31.5 million cases in 2018, averaging about 3,150 cases each. In contrast, the 50 biggest companies average some six million cases, making the average Big Wine company 2,000 times bigger than 99.5 percent of all the other wine companies in the U.S.
• McPherson Cellars Winery Tre Colore 2015: Subdued fruit, so this drinks something like an etherial Willamette Valley pinot noir. Blend 50% cinsault, 40% carigan, 10% viognier. Easy to find in Texas. $11-16 Link to my review
• The Dreaming Tree Chardonnay California 2016: Delightfully smooth, seamless, clean, tasty. Constellation Brands. $14-15 Link to my review
• Apothic Wines Inferno 2016: Whiskey barrel aged wine beverage that clearly has a devoted following of sybaritic drinkers. Gallo. $15-17 Link to my review
• Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon 2015: Washington State monster red, massive fruits, but some restraint on oak and alcohol. $18-20 Link to my review
• Meiomi Rosé 2017: light, crisp, refreshing, with surprising delicacy; Constellation Brands. $20-25 Link to my review
• Duchman Family Winery Aglianico Oswald Vineyard 2014: Vivid, tart fruits; enough heft, tannins, and acidity to complement rich, red meat dishes. Texas grapes. $25-30 Link to my review
• Conde de Velázquez Condesa Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2013: Exceptionally smooth easy drinker with welcomed layers and depth. $27-31 Link to my review
Last round: Something to consider: half the wines you drink are below average.