When most people think of wine, they immediately think of France or Italy, but the United States has been producing quality wine since the mid-1800s. Since then, it’s become easier than ever to purchase and enjoy your favorite American wines in the comfort of your own home thanks to an increase in direct shipping and an influx of online retailers selling a wide range of different brands at affordable prices. Here are 10 facts about American wine that you should know if you want to make sure you’re ordering the best bottles every time you shop online or head to your local liquor store.
1) There are more than 4,000 wineries in America
The US produces more than 1 billion cases of wine every year, an impressive feat when you consider how many other countries are vying for world dominance in the wine market. In fact, Americans produce twice as much wine per capita as the French and we’re not just talking about Boone’s Farm here. One hundred years ago there were fewer than 2,000 wineries in America. Today there are over 4,000 and still growing.
2) Wine grapes can grow almost anywhere in America
Grape vines can grow in many different climates, including places as diverse as the swampy marshes of Louisiana, the rocky foothills of Colorado and Montana, or the flat sands of California. The majority of grapes grown in America are actually from California with Oregon coming in second place.
3) New York produces some of the best wines in the country
Many of the best wines in the US are produced in New York. There are 4 major vineyards: LaScala, Hugel, Clos Saron, and Chateau Les. Varietals that these vineyards specialize in include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Riesling. These four wineries produce around 100 varieties of wines combined!
4) Winemakers aren’t picky when it comes to harvesting
American winemakers have started picking different types of grapes than Europeans. European varieties still account for the vast majority of what’s grown in America. Sauvignon blanc and Riesling are among the most popular choices, although growing areas are diversifying with more rosé, late harvest wines, and sparkling grape varietals from France, like Chenin Blanc, being planted in California.
5) Americans are starting to take their wines seriously
Americans are starting to take their wines seriously. According to Wine Spectator, consumption of sparkling wines and rosés, which Americans had ignored for decades, grew more than 500% in just the last five years. To drink better quality wines without spending too much money, try out these three excellent regional appellations: Oregon’s Willamette Valley for Pinot Noir, Niagara for Riesling, and Wines from the Finger Lakes Region of New York State for dessert wines.
6) Red wines dominate production because they sell well
The U.S. ranks fourth in total production of all wines, behind Italy, France, and Spain. Among the five most popular varietals for red wines in the U.S., 95% are made from varieties indigenous to Europe, including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel.
7) Napa Valley has nothing on Missouri, Arkansas, and Virginia
This summer, we visited the well-known Napa Valley and the lesser-known vineyards of Missouri, Arkansas, and Virginia. The three states have over 12,000 acres of vineyards combined! If you visit Napa Valley and are disappointed with your experience (because it’s not as picturesque as in the pictures), consider going to one of these three states instead. They’re not just second best.
8) Wine could be one of your five-a-day
While the consumption of wine in the United States is relatively low when compared to other countries, studies have shown that there is an increased rate of consumption over the last decade. You can also enjoy it without feeling guilty as it has been shown to have health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and reducing strokes.
9) There are no rules when it comes to pairing wine with food
Pairing food and wine is all about personal preference, so you might as well explore as many options as possible. American wines are made in many different styles, from dry, crisp chardonnays to sweet syrahs. You might be surprised by how much there is for everyone in the US!
10) Most importantly, drink what you enjoy!
Do you know the difference between red and white wine? What’s the difference between a cabernet sauvignon and a merlot? We’re here to help. You don’t need any fancy gadgets or expensive classes to understand the basics of your favorite fermented beverage.