The World of Wine: A Challenge To The Last Glass
Between bites and remorse, Italy is out of this year's World Cup in Brazil. As we wait to find out who the World Cup will go to in Maracanã, let us look back to see who has already won the most coveted World Cup title.
Only eight countries have won the World Cup and Brazil is in the lead with five trophies under their belt. Italy comes in at four, Germany three, Uruguay and Argentina with two and England, France and Spain have won the championship once.
Let's uncover the relationships between the World Cup’s 32 participating countries with the the world of wine. Any guesses as who will win? Let’s first see what wine they drink back home!
90% of the wine production in Brazil comes from the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul in Sierra Gaúcha. The Brazilian viticulture shows a predominance of quantity and quality white wine, favored by the soil and climatic conditions. The white wines are fruity and refreshing. The biggest obstacle in making wine is the weather condition that does not allow the wine to reach full maturity, so it is better to consume when young.
FIFA's official wine of the World Cup is Faces produced by Lidio Carraro Winery. The winemaker is a Brazilian-born oenologist who has made white, red and rosé wines to represent the Brazilian spirit.
There is more to Mexico than Tequila as their largest wine production takes place in Valle de Guadalupe, which was first harvested by Dominican priests in 1843. The main grape varieties are Tempranillo, Syrah, Dolcetto, Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds and Palomino, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier for whites.
One of the most developed wine regions of Croatia is Istria, which boasts many varieties of excellent quality. The most well-known white wine is definitely the Istrian Malvasia, while Terrano is their most important red wine.
In Africa it is customary to drink palm wine—matango—an alcoholic beverage that is obtained from the sap of various types of palm trees. Immediately after collecting the sap it begins to naturally ferment because of the yeasts present in the air, turning the sap into a sweet and aromatic wine with an alcohol content of around 4%.
Although the Dutch enjoy their beer, Holland produces about 900,000 liters of red and white wine a year. The climate is not suitable for traditional grape varieties as they need to be more resistant to cold, such as their Pinot and Chardonnay.
Chile is considered the most important wine-producing country in South America. The varieties of white grapes grown in the country are predominantly Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Vert; while among the red grapes the most famous is the Carmenère—a black grape variety from the French wine region of Médoc.
The historic area where great red wines are produced is in Rioja, a region situated to the north between Bilbao and Madrid that takes its name from the Oja River. The main grape is the red Tempranillo, whose name derives from "temprano" meaning "early" since it ripens in the first fortnight of September.
The other vineyards are between Castilla and Leon, in the area of the upper valley of the Duero where you find Ribera del Duero wine region. Excellent wines are also produced in the regions of Priorat, Catalonia and east of Tarragona. Let’s not forget the Jerez region in southwest Spain where the superb white grape Palomino is grown to make sherry.
Southern Australia, and in particular the area around Adelaide, is without a doubt the most productive wine area of the country. The best winemaking is represented by their Chardonnay and the Syrah wines.
At the heart of Colombia you will find coffee. In 2011, UNESCO declared the coffee growing region of the Coffee Triangle a World Heritage site, which includes Caldas, Quindío and Risaralda. It's where the most coffee is grown in Colombia and is exported to the United States, Germany, France, Japan, and Italy.
Much of the current wine production area in Greece is on land that has been cultivated for wine in ancient times. Among the most important wine regions there are Macedonia, Thessaly, the Peloponnese, the Aegean islands and the island of Crete. Greece has traditionally been an important producer of wine, best known for their dry white Retsina wine.
As in many African countries, palm wine is the national drink. In the Ivory Coast, however, it goes by the name of "koutoukou."
Japan’s main grape varieties are the Koshu (an indigenous white grape), Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon for red wines plus Chardonnay. Sake is the more typical Japanese alcoholic beverage, which is obtained from the combination of ethyl alcohol and liquid derived from the fermentation of rice—hence it can be called "rice wine."
Costa Rica is most famous for its production of rum obtained from the distillation of sugar cane molasses. The aging lasts at least five years and the alcohol content is 35% by volume. The rum has a dark amber color that almost carries hints of molasses and of oak barrels.
The Uruguayan territory is ideal for producing high quality wines. The Tannat is the country’s “national grape” and is considered to be indigenous to Uruguay, but it's actually native to southeastern France and was introduced by Basque settlers in the 1800’s. Thanks to modern winemaking it's known to be lighter in tannins with hints of blackberry fruit.
Being one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world it should not be a shock to see over 350 grapes, each documented by Italy's Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
Tuscany, along with Piedmont, is one of the Italian regions that produces the best quality wines. Tuscany boasts 7 DOCG wines and 36 DOC.
The most well-known Tuscan wines are Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The production areas for these wines are Chianti, Chianti Classico, Carmignano and San Gimignano just to name a few.
The red wines occupy about 70% of production, produced from grapes such as Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Among the most cultivated white grapes there are Trebbiano, Malvasia, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Chardonnay, Vermentino and Malvasia Bianca.
In England the vineyards are located in the south and east, under the Birmingham line-Northwick to benefit from the Gulf Stream that combats the rigid British weather. English vines produce 95% white wines, mainly from Müller-Thurgau, Seyval Blanc, Madeleine Angevine.
France holds the distinction of wines of excellence, so, much of the global wine production quality is based on the French model. Each wine region of France is considered a model for certain types of wine: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone Valley for red wines; Burgundy, the Loire Valley and Alsace white wines; and let’s not forget Champagne for sparkling wines.
Ecuador is not famous for their wine production. A popular drink is chicha, a low-alcohol liquor (can also be non-alcoholic) typical of the indigenous tradition and is derived from the fermentation of distilled corn and other cereals or fruit.
Switzerland is not only famous for their excellent chocolate! They have two important areas for winemaking. One is Valais where they grow Pinot Noir, Chesselas and Gamay manufacturing two-thirds of the country’s production. The second area being Ticino, where the Merlot grape is king.
The most popular alcoholic beverage is yuscarán made from sugarcane. It can be found in Yuscarán, an old mining town, known for it's pure water in the biological reserve that's used to make the alcoholic drink. Ask for a guaro if you ever go!
Argentina is one of the largest wine producers, just behind France, Italy and Spain. The Argentine wine production is almost all red wines, and the most important of which is Malbec, grown in the soil of Mendoza.
Palm wine is a very old and traditional practice holding many social and symbolic values for the locals. A part from typical consumption it is drunk during ritual ceremonies, such as weddings and funerals and is poured on the ground to honor the ancestors. Palm wine has given rise to a Nigerian music genre, palm wine music, which was born in piano bars where palm wine was served.
There is no longer remnants of wine in the Iranian city that gave its name to the Shiraz grape because Islamic law prohibits the use, production and sale of any alcoholic beverage. For this reason, the most popular drink in Iran is tea, which is consumed throughout the day.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Thanks to the Mediterranean climate and the warmth of the sun under which the grapes ripen, the Žilavka (white) and Blatina (red) are the most popular varieties of wine in the country.
When you think of Germany it's almost impossible not to associate it with the beer, but this country is among the largest producers of superior white wines. The grapes grown in Germany are mainly white because red grapes have a difficult time to thrive and ripen in cold weather conditions. The best white wines of the country are produced from Riesling and Müller-Thurgau. The Pinot Noir, known in these parts as Blauburgunder, is the most widely used and appreciated.
About 90% of all wine production in the U.S. is from California of which Napa Valley is certainly the most famous wine-growing region by far. The most cultivated grapes in this area are Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Oregon, however, is the best area for Pinot Noir in America.
Ghana produces oil extracted by hand, in addition to wine, which is obtained by cutting the palm. The palm wine is then distilled to produce a gin called "burukutu."
Portugal is traditionally linked to two famous wines: Port and Madeira, which made each village famous all over the world. Viticulture is strongly tied to tradition, so some wine makers still crush the fruit by foot in traditional tanks called "lagares."
Belgium is known for their beer and rightfully so. It is a country no larger than Sicily producing more than 50 different types of beer. Among the many and varied types are the popular Pilsener, Belgian Ale and Lambic.
This North African country was known to produce wine even before they were colonized by France in 1830, but now the grapes are almost entirely French in the Barbary States. Red wine from the south of France was blended with Algerian red wine since Algerian wine was deeper in color and higher in alcohol.
When you think of Russia, you think vodka, so you may be surprised to know that the main grape varieties grown here are Rhein Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Clairette, Aligoté, Saperavi, Traminer, Pinot Noir and Chasselas. North Caucasus is where there are the most vineyards in Russia where over 100 different varieties of grapes are used for production.
Today, the symbol of the wine-growing region—located at the Korean Yeongdong and the tip of Campbell Early—is a very particular red berry variety. The Bokbunja is considered the highest expression of local wine, made from the fermentation of berries that has an alcohol content as much as 15%.