American Wine Trivia for Thanksgiving
Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 9:52AM

Happy Thanksgiving! With America's signature holiday just a few days away, I thought it would be fun to focus on American wine trivia. Like most components of our country's culture, wine production and consumption in America is a veritable "melting pot," having been influenced by various countries. Many of the famous international grape varietals of which we are so fond (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, etc.) are of European origin. The American wine industry has grown up comparing itself to, and competing with the wines of France, although influence from Italy and Spain can also be detected. Yet, in recent years, American wines have become prominent forces in the international wine market, and wine culture in the United States is on the rise. Although we may still be a beer drinking country, many of our best and brightest have been oenophiles. 

For your research pleasure, here's a few trivia questions related to America and wine. Submit your responses using our General Question Form. The winner gets their choice of free admission to our final Fall Wine Discovery Class at Levity (Monday, November 26th), or a Starbucks gift card. We'll close the quiz, and post the answers on Sunday evening.

  1. Where does the United States rank in terms of world wine production? 
  2. Approximately how many liters of wine does the average American consume in one year? How does that compare to the average person in France?
  3. True or False: There are actively producing wineries in all 50 US states.
  4. Zinfandel is often referred to as America's grape, but in true American fashion, it is the descendent of another European grape varietal. What is the name of the grape that is Zinfandel's ancestor, and what country is it from?
  5. What American President was a noted oenophile, and is reported to have said "Good wine is a necessity of life for me."?
  6. As noted above, virtually all of the famous international grapes are of the species, Vitis vinifera. Name two species of grapes native to the United States.

Happy Thanksgiving! Hopefully there is some good wine on your table. Cheers!

Update on Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 11:04AM by Registered Commentertruthinjuice

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! I'm especially thankful for those who took time away from holiday feasts, Black Friday shopping, or visits with family to spend a little time on To those of you who took our latest quiz, an even bigger thank you! While seemingly straight-forward, this quiz did have a few curveballs, and consequently, we didn't have any perfect scores for this quiz.

However, congratulations to David, who earned our top score with his submission.

Our final class in the Fall Wine Discovery Series at Levity is Monday, November 26th, at 7:00 PM. If you didn't win free admission, and would like to attend, tickets are $20 per person.

And now, on to the quiz answers!

  1. America ranks fourth in global wine production, trailing world leader France, second-place Italy, and third-place Spain.
  2. In 2010, the average American consumed 9.42 liters of wine, while the average French citizen consumed 45.7 liters, an amount almost 5 times more wine than the average American! However, as a country, the United States consumes more wine than any other country in the world, accounting for 12.54% of world wine consumption in 2010.
  3. True. All 50 US states have actively producing wineries, even Alaska and Hawaii! This doesn't mean that all 50 states have wineries that are producing wine from grapes, or that they are making wines from grapes grown within their state. It is possible to make wine from other fruits, such as blueberries or strawberries. Also, wineries in states with climates that don't support viticulture can have grapes from other states shipped to them, and make wine from those grapes. As a point of demonstration, here's a link to a tasting that Joel Stein conducted for Time Magazine, where he tasted one wine from all 50 states. I'm not sure of the selection criteria Mr. Stein used for his tasting, but I do think his experiment is misleading in some respects. While he rated some of the wines he tasted as "undrinkable," I think if he had looked a little harder, he could have found at least one well-made wine in all 50 states. For example, Mr. Stein rated the Nobska Red from Cape Cod Winery as "undrinkable." While I have never tasted the Nobska Red, I know for a fact that good wine is made in Massachusetts. The sparkling wines from Westport Rivers are quite enjoyable. Sadly, I haven't tasted wines from Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, North Dakota, or Wyoming, so I can't provide recommendations of good wines from those states, although I would be willing to bet that not all of the wines produced there are "undrinkable."
  4. DNA profiling conducted in the 1990s by Carole Meredith of UC Davis, and Croatian researchers, has provided strong evidence that Zinfandel originated in Croatia, and is the descendent of the Croatian grape, Crljenak Kaštelanski. Crljenak Kaštelanski is also the parent of Italian Primitivo, which is genetically identical to Zinfandel. Zinfandel was imported to the United States from the Austrian imperial nursery in 1829, but it is unclear whether Primitivo's origins in Italy were the result of imported Zinfandel from America, or from another source.
  5. Thomas Jefferson was a noted oenophile, and the quote "Good wine is a necessity of life for me," is attributed to him on the back of every bottle of wine imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. For a brief recap on Jefferson's relationship with wine, check out this article by James M. Gabler in Forbes.
  6. Acceptable answers include: Vitis labrusca, Vitis rotundifolia, Vitis riparia, Vitis aestivalis, Vitis rupestris, and Vitis vulpina. For more information on each of these species, check out this Wikipedia link.
Article originally appeared on Truth In Juice: Wine Education & Commentary (
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