by Debra Williams

I was reading an article written by Nolan Moore, August, 2014 on ListVerse and wanted to share some rather interesting, lesser known facts about wine. For example, while we don’t really think of wasps as being our friends (the author calls them hypodermic needles with wings), they are critical to the development of grapes used in winemaking.

It would seem wasps love grapes. Grapes grow a fungus called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This fungus is crucial in making wine, beer, and bread. Even though the winemaker will add more yeast later, without the natural fungus being present, the wine is just simply not as flavorful.

S. cerevisiae, unfortunately, dies off each winter. That’s where wasps do their magic. They ingest the fungus then return to their nests to share the masticated mush with their larvae. The fungus will not only survive in the stomachs of the adult wasps, but will also be passed to the larvae. As they mature and go for their first grape binges, the fungus is passed back into the grapes. Thus, we have a new, delicious vintage with each passing year. I’ve a new found respect for wasps.

The first wine in space, you ask? 1969, Buzz Aldrin. The writer writes, “…a small vial of wine boldly went where no beverage had gone before.” If you’re a Trekie (which I am), you’ll get it. Buzz held the first communion on the Moon.

In the 1970’s, Charles Bourland found a way to package Sherry, a fortified wine, and send with the astronauts participating in the Apollo program. Working with the University of California, he found a way to package the wine so that it did not lose its flavor. This consisted of a specialized, plastic, package with a straw inserted. A simple squeeze, and the spacemen could enjoy a lovely sip of wine.

Alas, to quote the author, “When the public learned of the plan, teetotalers around the nation rose up in righteous anger…” NASA pulled the plug, or one could say that they plugged the straws and the initiative was cancelled. A backward step for mankind.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this. Benjamin Franklin said that wine is “constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” Thanks again Nolan Moore for a wonderful article!

Happy Wining Everyone!