Wine Superstitions and Folklore
It’s Friday the 13th, so we’re thinking all about superstitions. Whether you believe in luck or not, it is fun to reflect on the things that have delighted or unnerved us for centuries. Wine has had a strong foothold in human life for centuries, long enough to pick up some folklore along the way. Customs, traditions, and urban legend all play little roles in our lives as we shape our understanding of the world and look into the past.
In some cultures, spilling wine portended disaster, similar to having a black cat cross one’s path. Some Italian traditions held that this could be countered by dabbing a little bit of that spilled wine behind each ear--it’s said that this would bring wealth! Other traditions agree that spilled wine is actually good luck. The tradition of breaking a glass full of wine at a wedding is meant to bring many years of love to the happy couple.
One Persian story holds that wine was “invented” when a woman who was suffering from a headache drank juice that had inadvertently fermented in its jar. She became relaxed and fell asleep. When she awoke, her headache was gone. In wine there is health!
Old German winemaking superstitions dictate that the very last grape harvest of the year should be pulled in from the field in an ox-drawn cart, or else the whole harvest would be plagued by sour grapes yielding terrible wine. Fortunately, this superstition is region-specific, and everything from our 2022 harvest is tasting wonderful so far despite our cellar team using no oxen.
As with many areas of superstition, quite a bit of wine lore deals with death. In some Romanian traditions, it’s customary to pour out some wine onto the floor when indulging, sharing friends and loved ones who have passed away. In some German stories, when someone passes away all of the wine in their cellar must be shaken immediately or it will go bad.
Of course, superstitions aren’t just for the days of the past. Winemakers today still have their hangups and good-luck routines, such as having a shot of tequila when the first grapes of a new lot come in, writing instructions to the cellar team with a certain pencil, or wearing a lucky hat during harvest. Our winemaker knew of one cellar that had a pink tutu that would be worn by whoever made the most recent mistake, and they’d wear it until someone else made a mistake and the tutu was passed on. As lovely as our team might look in tutus, we don’t feel the need for luck around here, we’re just delighted to invest our effort and care from stem to bottle.
Good luck this Friday the 13th! Cheers from Ruby Hill Winery.
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