Interesting Reasons to Raise Your Glass!


The Green Wine Bottle

Ever wondered where the green wine bottle originated from? Well, it was actually invented in England by a Catholic diplomat and polymath, Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665), up until then it had been stored in goat skin bags.

In the 1630’s Digby owned a glassworks and manufactured globular wine bottles with a high tapered neck, a collar and a punt. His winning manufacturing technique of using a coal furnace which included a wind tunnel, making it hotter than usual and a higher ratio of sand to potash and lime resulted in stronger and more stable wine bottles than were customary. Digby’s bottles were square which makes them easier to stack. The translucent green or brown colour acts to protect the content from the light.

Digby is known for the publication of a cookbook called ‘The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kinelme Digbie Knight Opened’, which is currently considered an excellent source of period recipes particularly for beverages such as mead.

The ‘Real Thing’

Without wine, there would be no Coca-Cola. Tonic wines became popular in the mid 19th century and were fortified with the South American plant extract ‘coca’. By 1863 Vin Mariani was a popular coca-wine drank by millions across the world. It was even consumed by Queen Victoria and Thomas Edison.

In Atlanta, John Pemberton produced a popular American version, but in 1885 prohibition laws forced him to produce a non-alcoholic version which he livened up with kola nuts, which are rich in caffeine and Coca-Cola was born!

Italy –‘The Land of Wine’

Southern Italy was dubbed by the Greeks as ‘The Land of Wine’ whilst Romans enjoyed the wines of the Campania region. Wine has been produced there for over 4000 years. When the Phoenicians arrived in 2000 B.C, the wine business was already thriving. The rich soil and temperature climate are ideal for growing all kinds of fruit and vegetables including grapes.

Campania is the region surrounding Naples. It is home to pizza and Mount Vesuvius. When Pompeii was buried by Mount Vesuvius, over 200 wine bars were buried with it!

Roman Bar


The Oldest Wine Cellar in the World

The oldest wine cellar in the world is held on the wreck of the Titanic. Amazingly, these bottles are still intact a century after the ship’s fateful day. Although salvaging materials from the Titanic is very controversial, it is believed six bottles of authentic wine actually from the cellar of the Titanic were sold to a ‘high profile customer in Asia’ by Australian company ‘Wineflyers International’ whose customers are believed to include pop legend David Bowie.

Wine and Celebrity Involvement

David Bowie is not the only celebrity famously linked to wine. Italian-American director Francis Ford Coppola comes from a family with a long history of winemaking and British Singer Cliff Richard has been a lifelong enthusiast and entered the wine industry doing something he enjoys. Fellow musician Sting and American actors Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp own vineyards and wine estates entirely for their own personal use, but a lot of celebrities are leveraging their name recognition as a selling tool in the wine industry. Five years ago statistics proved that sales of celebrity wines were up by nearly 20% over previous years.

Celebrities can be involved in their winery and vineyards in many different ways. Some will lend their names to winery for a one off production.

In 1974, Bob Dylan gave permission for Italian winery ‘Fattoria Le Terrazze’ to use his name, album art and likeness to create a wine that pays tribute to his album ‘Planet Waves’. In 2009 British chef Gordon Ramsey allowed a Bordeaux winery to use his name to celebrate the release of their 10th vintage. (He rather nobly gave them permission without claiming royalties)

Good News

In the UK, wine has recently made the headlines as being a good investment. Returns on Individual Savings Accounts (ISA) remain low, with rates as low as 0.5 %, but investing the ISA amount in wine has currently seen returns of over 10% a year.

Although no one can predict the future, it does seem to be a good time to buy wine at the moment as consumers have been getting excellent returns. With other recent positive press reporting links between drinking wine and the protection against sunburn and the anti-ageing properties being confirmed in red wine it is definitely as good a time as any to raise a glass. Cheers!

Katrina Writer – Katrina Norman – is a freelance writer from England who covers both wine and travel for a number of journals.

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