On 8 March 2021, Norbert Tischelmayer from Wien, who gave the idea and is responsible for the editing, published as the 25,000th entry an essay on the natural history work "Naturalis historia" by the Roman polymath Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD). He included it because one of the 37 books on universal knowledge of the time is devoted exclusively to the subject of wine. Detailed descriptions of wine-growing techniques of the time are included in further volumes of the "Naturalis historia", as are contemporary findings on the healing power of wine.
Currently, the encyclopaedia, first published in 1999 as a "glossary", comprises well over 10,000 terms on viticulture, production and vinification alone. In addition, it offers information on all important wine-legislative regulations of the growing countries, on about 2,500 grape varieties, 2,000 wineries and on about 600 international personalities from the world of wine.
"More than 3,500 keywords are extensively illustrated," Tischelmayer describes the massive volume, "plus some 167,000 cross-references, 47,500 synonyms, 5,300 translations into several languages and-more than 30,000 audio pronunciation aids." This inventory is the result of 22 years of continuous editorial work, with which the encyclopaedia continues to change and expand on a daily basis.
"As a digital medium, we can update all changes in viticulture - such as scientific findings, growing areas, sites, statistics and growing countries - at any time and correct and expand them again and again," emphasises Norbert Tischelmayer, "the knowledge in the encyclopaedia is constantly in motion."
In this way, he has compiled a body of knowledge that has long since earned a reliable name for itself as the largest wine encyclopaedia in the world in viticulture schools, training and further education institutions, in wineries and among private wine lovers. For quality assurance, Tischelmayer coordinates an international network of scientists and experts. They review content, provide information and clarify questions.
They include, for example, the renowned Australian viticulture professor and grape variety expert Kym Anderson, Dr Erika Maul from the Julius Kühn Institute for Grapevine Breeding Geilweilerhof, the Swiss grapevine geneticist Dr José Vouillamoz, Roman Horvath (MW), farm manager of the renowned Domäne Wachau in Austria, and Prof. Walter Kutscher, wine critic and wine expert of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF).
But the encyclopaedia does not only offer tested expert knowledge: Tischelmayer has published dozens of entertaining and insightful thematic portals with links to learn, marvel and smile. For example, he gathers entries on wine superlatives, quotes from personalities of world history or on special wines. " There are entries on bikini wine, for example, as well as pirate, hamster and zeppelin wine," the encyclopaedia manager explains and laughs.
The computer scientist Norbert Tischelmayer compiled the first entries in the 1990s, initially out of private joy of discovery and for self-help. At that time, detailed wine knowledge was only accessible to interested people through specialised literature and scientific libraries. In 1999, the Viennese discovered the website of wein.plus on the internet, which had only just been launched. He wrote founder and managing director Utz Graafmann an e-mail and suggested to him to publish a "glossary" with 800 terms as a pdf file. With the 25,000th entry in 2021, the inventory has grown more than thirty-fold and is published with a complex database system. The lexicon is now also available in an English language version, with other languages to follow in 2021.