We asked you five questions about the world of wine. Here come the answers!
- Several Californian sellers of cheap wine were in the news recently over a class action suit claiming that they contain up to five times the amount permitted by law of which toxin?
Arsenic. Despite its reputation, arsenic is a very useful element, and it may actually be a necessary trace element in the human body. However, it occurs naturally in several varieties of fruit, including apple and grape pips, and it is toxic—although the jury’s still out over whether the WHO‘s safe limit of 10 parts per billion is overly stringent.
- Which country was the world’s biggest exporter of wine in 2014?
Spain, outstripping Italy—for many years previously the leader—and France.
And for a bonus point, which country was the biggest importer of these wines, often bottling them and selling them as their own?
France. This sort of practice is fairly widespread for cheaper, low-quality versions of foodstuffs; likewise, much of Spain’s olive oil production ends up in Italy, where it’s bottled and re-exported as Italian.
- Wines which display a certain tasting profile are sometimes called “polo wines” by Australians. What is the conventional term for such wines?
“Polo wines” are so-called because they’re like the famous mints: hollow. Both terms are used of wines that are good on the initial taste and in the finish, but have nothing to offer in between.
- In 2012 Rudy Kurniawan achieved notoriety as the perpetrator of the biggest wine hoax in history. It involved counterfeiting one of the world’s most famous wines. Which?
Pétrus, from the Pomerol appellation in the Bordeaux region. Kurniawan, a Chinese Indonesian, broke onto the rare wine scene in the early 2000s and rapidly established a reputation for his knowledge and discernment. In a world where so much depends on subjective opinion (and thus snobbery), this enabled him to foist fake wines onto the market through auctions until he was arrested in March 2009 by the FBI.
- In the last week of April 2015, The Drinks Business reported that Waitrose sales of a certain country’s wine were up by a massive 95% in 2014 compared to the previous year. Which country?
England. Viticulture in England has a much longer history than is popularly thought, going back to Roman times. However, after the Middle Ages it went into decline as a result of competition from the Continent and changing agricultural practice (especially after the Black Death) at home. It’s only in the last couple of decades that it’s seen a revival—helped by increased market demand in wine generally and, in part, by climate change.
How did you get on? Why not let us know?