5 Wine Short-Stories
To make this quarantine more interesting, we have curated 5 short unique wine stories for you, which will take you on a historical journey of myths, revelations and facts.
1) Watermelon and Wine: Will Death Do Us Apart?
In some countries, it is believed that a mixture of watermelon and wine may cause one’s death.
This belief was born in the 19th century in the neighboring town of a monastery. At the time, there were some incidents of women being raped. Gradually, these incidents became more common and nobody could find the reason behind this sudden increase of such brutalities. Eventually, the monks were required to unlock the mystery.
The monks started by studying the eating habits of the inhabitants of the town. After some time, they detected a peculiar characteristic of the region: it was abundant in grapes and watermelons. They used the grapes to produce wine and ate the watermelon as dessert, consuming both at the same time. The monks concluded that this combination of food and drink was the reason behind the increasing libido of the perpetrators.
The monks found a solution to end the lust (still not being able diject the actual reasoning). They communicated to the people that those who ate watermelon and drank wine together would die and go to hell.
Now, is watermelon and wine poisonous? Scientifically, it’s proven not to be poisonous or cause any death, but the monk’s finding had some plausibility.
Watermelons contain an amino acid which after being metabolized, transforms into a compound called Nitric Oxide, a natural vasodilator. Additionally, wines contain polyphenols which boost the formation of this compound.
So, what is Nitric Oxide? This powerful vasodilator is one of the main components of sildenafil, better known as “Viagra”.
But the story doesn’t end there. Wine contains ethanol, which after a moderate consumption, produces a rise in the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates sexual desire, among other functions.
The mythic stories might sound far-fetched, but what if they all have some hidden credible findings?
2) Florence’s Forgotten Windows
Around the 16th century, wealthy people had started expanding their lands, especially vineyards, in the Tuscan fields. This period marked the birth of Florence’s buchette del vino, tiny doors for on-demand wine of around 40 cm high, set into the walls of the Florentine houses.
Around that time, the aristocrats raised the taxes on wine-selling. The Florentines loved wine, but they loved their money more. So, to avoid the increase in taxes, they created a system for wine retail: on-demand, to-go, literally hand-sold through a hole in the wall of their residences.
It was convenient for drinkers too, they knocked on the window with their empty bottle, and the server, a cantiniere, would answer. Upon receiving the bottle and payment, he would return with a full bottle of wine.
Buchette eventually became popular enough that nearly every Florentine family with vineyards had a wine window, and soon the trend spread to nearby Tuscan towns such as Siena and Pisa.
The windows remained open for the next three centuries, but by the beginning of the 20th century, more social wine taverns had spread throughout the city, with better-quality wine, better company and equally easy access.
Currently, there is an ongoing mission to identify, map and preserve the old buchette. So far, nearly 300 have been found, restored and preserved.
There is even a restaurant called Babae that has cracked open its bucchette anew for business.
3) Champagne, The Wine Of The Devil
For centuries, the region of Champagne in France, only produced traditional still wines.
While winemaking techniques were being discovered on the go, so were the containers used for storing the wines.
In Champagne, viticulturists didn’t use fermentation casks similar to the ones used these days (it’s the 16th century that we are talking about). They pressed the grapes and bottled the juice directly without letting the fermentation finish. They ensured that this would conserve the fresh aromas much better.
However, fermentation would not stop. It continued inside the bottle. The result was spontaneous explosions inside the wineries, cellars or clients’ houses. In some cases, it happened while the priests were officiating the masses. Unable to explain the causes, they considered that this phenomenon was an act of the devil. Therefore, they called it “the wine of the devil” for a long time. It was not until the 17th century that Dom Perignon appeared on the scene and perfected every method highlighting the importance of this beverage.
4) History and Mystery Of The Toast
The word “Toast”, as we know it today, comes from the 6th century and is a term of German origin (“bring dir’s”, turned into “brindis” in spanish), which means “I offer you”. According to the historians, it took place during the celebration of the victory of Charles V’s army over their opponent on May 6, 1527, when the troops took over Rome and sacked the city.
However, there are a lot of speculations about the origin of this ritual. It has been associated with a lot of concepts throughout history. From the ancient Greek banquets during the 4th century BC, to offering to Gods asking for protection in battles to drinking to celebrate the beauty of a woman.
Which one do you think is true?
5) The First Winemaker
Even though there isn’t an accurate trail of the invention of wine at one particular moment, it is assured that it happened by accident (as many other inventions).
It is a millenary beverage that has appeared in numerous books, engravings and tales throughout the passing of time. What all the historians surely mark is that wine has been present in the history of manhood.
According to historians, viticulture started in the Caucasus. It reached the summit in the era of the Egyptian Pharaohs. It was probably them who applied the most innovative techniques, such as the pressing of grapes. It was possible because of the King-God Osiris, who taught humanity to cultivate, harvest and store the vines. It was his wife, Isis, who was in charge of taking care and protecting the process in the primitive wineries.
We got it from the Egyptians!
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