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12 Days of Christmas Onward

By Karen MacNeil
January 1, 2021

The 12 Days of Christmas have been celebrated in Europe since before the Middle Ages. They begin with Christmas Day and continue until the evening of January 5th, which marks the arrival of the Magi—the three wise men—in the Christian tradition. Each day traditionally observes a feast day for a saint or other event.

The famous carol which takes its name from the holiday dates back to 1780, when the earliest known version first appeared in a children’s book called Mirth With-out Mischief. The melody and lyrics most of us are familiar with today was written by an English composer named Frederic Austin in 1909. To help you celebrate the midpoint of these dozen days, we plumbed our Numbers archives to bring you our own version of the well-loved carol. (A Wine Lover’s Christmas graphic created by artist/designer David price.)

♫ ♫ On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my true love shared with me: ♫ ♫

12 Patron Saints of Wine
Some (like Goar of Aquitaine) are the patron saint of wine and hotel keepers. Others (like Vincent of Saragossa) are the patron saint of wine, winemakers and vinegar makers. And at least one (Saint Trifon) cut off his nose with vine pruning shears after an encounter with the Virgin Mary (it’s a long story).

11 Cases of Lafite
You could purchase approximately 11 cases of the 2015 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild for the same price as a current model Tesla. The 2015 vintage of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, one of the five famous First Growths of Bordeaux, has a “pre-arrival” price of $575 per bottle. The 2016 Tesla Model S70 sedan has an MSRP of $75,000. The 2015 Lafite-Rothschild will be released in October 2018. The Tesla Model S70 has sufficient cargo space to hold several cases.

10 Thousand U.S. Wineries
There are roughly ten thousand wineries currently in the U.S., according to Wines Vines & Analytics. California (not surprisingly) has the greatest number of wineries in the country with more than 4,500. The next most winery-rich states include Oregon and Washington (8% each), New York (4%), and Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio (3% each).

9 Attributes of Great Wine
Distinctiveness, balance, precision, complexity, beyond fruitiness, length , choreography, connectedness, and the ability to evoke an emotional response. A wine is not great merely because we like it. I would argue that to really know wine—and to consider its potential greatness—requires that we move beyond what we know we like. It requires that we attempt a larger understanding of the aesthetics behind wines that have garnered respect, wines that have consistently been singled out for their merit, wines that have, again and again over time, been cherished for their integrity and beauty.

8 Millennia of Wine
Wine is now known to have existed for at least eight thousand years. In a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, molecular archeologist Patrick McGovern has uncovered the earliest known evidence—wine residue on pottery from two archaeological sites in The Republic of Georgia dating back to 6,000 B.C. Until this point, the earliest evidence of wine’s existence dated from 5000 to 5400 B.C. in Iran.

7 Years in Prison
Number of years that the only convicted wine counterfeiter, Rudy Kurniawan, spent in prison before he was released in early November. Kurniawan was convicted in 2013 for selling millions of dollars worth of phony wines. Many of the counterfeit wines—often rare, old vintages of famous French wines—are still in circulation, according to experts. Awaiting deportation back to his home country, Indonesia, Kurniawan is likely to “set up shop” anew, this time in China, a story in suggests.

6 Bars of Pressure
A standard 750ml of Champagne or sparkling wine made by the traditional Champagne method is bottled under 6 bars of pressure. One bar is the same as 1 “atmosphere” and each is equal to 14.7 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure. Typically, a bottle of Champagne has between 70 and 90 psi, which is nearly 3 times the pressure in your car’s tires.

5 Thousand Grapes
Scientists believe that the 25,000 grape variety names around the world can trace their origins to about 5,000 truly different varieties. Most varieties have multiple names (garnacha in Spain is grenache in France for example). Of these 5,000 varieties, about 150 are planted in commercially significant amounts.

4 Centuries-old Grapevine
Believed to be the oldest grape vine in North America, the more than 400-year-old so-called “Mother Vine” was planted in the late 1500s on North Carolina’s Roanoke Island. The vine belongs to America’s oldest known species of native grapes, muscadine (vitis rotundifolia) and still bears fruit today. Muscadine, which early settlers renamed “scuppernong” after the nearby river, is only half as sweet as vitis vinifera, requiring the few producers of muscadine wine to add sugar to reach even 10% abv.

3 Million Millennials
Three million millennials aged 21 to 35 have stopped drinking wine and other alcoholic beverages, according to Wine Intelligence’s US Landscapes 2019 report. The decline is consistent with other recent studies that suggest a downturn in wine consumption among certain demographic groups.

2 Billion Bottles
Two billion bottles of Riunite have been sold in the U.S. since 1967, making Riunite the number one imported wine in U.S. history. At its pinnacle in the early 80s, Riunite sold nearly a million cases of its wine a month. Imported by Banfi, Riunite makes lightly fizzy Lambrusco, as well as simple table wines.

1 Part(ridge in a) Pe(a)r Tr(ee)illion
Humans can detect wine aroma compounds called pyrazines in concentrations as low as one part per trillion. Professor Marian W. Baldy, PhD compares this extraordinary capacity to “sniffing out a one-cent error in your $10 billion checking account.” Pyrazines (short for methoxypyrazine) are the compounds responsible for the green, herbal, savory aromas (like bell pepper) in many Bordeaux varieties such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and sauvignon blanc.