Wine History

General History

Middle Ages

476 - 1453

The start of the Middle Ages encompasses the increased movement of predominantly Germanic people, but much of the general settling of Europe was done at this point.
King Arthur, for example, was from approx the start of the Middle Ages.
Depending on who one follows, the end is considered either Christopher Columbus discovering the Americas or the fall of Constantinople. 1500 is certainly the end of the Middle Ages.

Muhammad active as Religious Leader

609 - 632

Life of Charlemagne

2 April 742 - 28 January 814

Formal break of Christianity into Orthodox & Catholic


The Great Schism of the Church

Battle of Hastings

october 14, 1066

Third Crusade

1189 - 1192

Temüjin becomes Genghis Khan

Approx. 1206

At a meeting uniting the various tribes, Temüjin becomes the Ruler of All Who Dwell in Felt Tents.

Gunpowder employed against Europeans


Used by the Mongols at the Battle of Mohi.

Black Death

1346 - 1353

Gunpowder made in England


Fall of Constantinople


Same as the fall of Bordeaux. This, however, prompted exploration of alternative routes to the East for spices when the overland trades were cut off by the Ottoman Empire.
Considered the end of the Middle Ages.

Fall of Bordeaux to the French

October 19 1453

Bordeaux fell to France originally in 1451 but this was the final push after John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, took back Bordeaux on 23rd Oct 1452. France finally took Bordeaux back on 19th Oct 1453, and this signifies the end of the 100 Years' War.

America discovered by Columbus

Approx. 1492

Protestant Reformation

Approx. 1517

Acknowledged to have started the Reformation with his 1517 work The Ninety-Five Theses, criticizing the Catholic Church.

Magellan Circumnavigates the World

20 September 1519 - 6 September 1522

Dutch East India Company formed

March 1602

Founded in March 1602 by the amalgamation of four Holland and two Zeeland companies which had been set up between 1596 and 1602 to conduct trade in East Asia, the General United Chartered East-India Company in the United Netherlands (Vereenigde Oost-Inische Compagnie: VOC) dominated European trade with the Orient for the rest of the 17th century, with counters and outposts strung out along the extended sea routes which linked the Netherlands with southern Africa, India, Ceylon, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Japan.

Gunpowder Plot

5 November 1605

'Refreshment Station' established in South Africa


Jan van Riebeeck established a refreshment station at the Cape of Good Hope, at what would become Cape Town, on behalf of the Dutch East India Company.

Sir Isaac Newton 'discovers' Gravity

Approx. 1666

The Great Fire of London

2 September 1666 - 5 September 1666

American Revolution

1765 - 1783

American Independence Day

4 July 1776

Louis Pasteur

1822 - 1895

Louis Pasteur's life.

American 'Wild West' Frontier officially closed

June 2, 1890


28 July 1914 - 11 November 1918

Prohibition in USA

October 28 1919 - December 5 1933

Volstead Act passed on October 28 1919 as the 18th Amendment. Repealed on December 5 1933 as the 21st Amendment.


1 September 1939 - 2 September 1945

Judgement of Paris

24 May 1976

The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 or the Judgment of Paris was a wine competition organized in Paris on 24 May 1976 by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant, in which French judges carried out two blind tasting comparisons: one of top-quality Chardonnays and another of red wines (Bordeaux wines from France and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from California). A California wine rated best in each category, which caused surprise as France was generally regarded as being the foremost producer of the world's best wines. Spurrier sold only French wine and believed that the California wines would not win.

Viti & Vini

Powdery Mildew noted in France


First scientifically described in the US in 1834, and first noted in Europe, in Margate-England, in 1845.

1855 Classification of Bordeaux


Louis Pasteur's Study of wines


Louis Pasteur's Study of Wines

Phylloxera makes an appearance in S.France


In 1863, the first vines began to deteriorate inexplicably in the southern Rhône region of France. The problem spread rapidly across the continent.

Downy Mildew introduced to France



Gin Act of 1736


The 1736 Gin Act taxed retail sales at a rate of 20 shillings a gallon on spirits and required licensees to take out a £50 annual licence to sell gin, a fee equivalent to about £7,000 today. The aim was to effectively prohibit the trade by making it economically unfeasible.

Hogarth's engraving of Beer Street & Gin Lane


Gin Act of 1751 (Tippling Act)


The Gin Act of 1751 prohibited gin distillers from selling to unlicensed merchants, restricted retail licenses to substantial property holders, and charged high fees to those merchants eligible for retail licenses. To offer the masses another invigorating (and non-alcoholic) beverage the import of tea was also encouraged.

Gordon's Gin created


By Robert Gordon, a Scot with a ministerial background.

Coffey Still Patented


Patent #5974 granted to Aeneas Coffey for a two-column continuous still, an improvement in design over the Robert Stein 'patent still'.

Tanqueray Gin created


Started in Bloomsbury, London.

Bacardi Rum founded


Havana Club founded


Havana Club is a brand of rum made in Santa Cruz del Norte, Cuba. José Arechabala established the brand in 1878. After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Cuban government nationalized the distillery and company. Subsequently, the Arechabala family left for Spain, then emigrated to the United States. Since 1994 it has been produced by Havana Club International, a 50:50 joint venture between Pernod Ricard and the Cuban government.

Bombay Sapphire created


Liqueur Wines

Port, Sherry, & Madeira

Methuen Treaty

27 December 1703

The Treaty, to become known as the Port Treaty, helped to establish trading relations between England and Portugal. The terms of the Treaty allowed English woolen cloth to be admitted into Portugal free of duty. In return, Portuguese wines imported into England would be subject to a third less duty than wines imported from France. This was particularly important in helping the development of the port industry. As England was at war with France, it became increasingly difficult to acquire wine and so port started to become a popular replacement.

Sherry vineyards devastated by Phylloxera


Champagne & Sparkling

Taittinger founded


Moët & Chandon founded


Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin founded


Billecart-Salmon founded


Bollinger founded


Krug founded


Joseph Krug founded the House of Krug in 1843. He was born Johann-Joseph Krug, a butcher’s son, in Mainz, on the Rhine, in 1800, at a time when the city was part of the Napoleonic Empire. Having dispensed with the name Johann, he left Mainz in 1824 and by 1834 he was in Paris. Germans were then much in demand in France as accountants and book-keepers and, as such, Joseph joined Champagne Jacquesson in Châlons-sur-Marne.

Light Wine

Tokaji Aszú wine first made?


A mention of wine made from aszú grapes had already appeared in the Nomenklatura of Fabricius Balázs Sziksai which was completed in 1576. A recently discovered inventory of aszú predates this reference by five years.

Tokaji Vineyard Classification


Vineyard classification began in 1730 with vineyards being classified into 3 categories depending on the soil, sun exposure and potential to develop noble rot, botrytis cinerea, first class, second class and third class wines. A royal decree in 1757 established a closed production district in Tokaj. The classification system was completed by the national censuses of 1765 and 1772.

Constantia Estate purchased & production started

Approx. 1778

It was Constantia's subsequent owners who achieved acclaim and prosperity, principally Hendrik Cloete, who purchased and restored it in 1778. Quality and fame gradually began to fade after the British occupied the Cape following the Napoleonic Wars. Initially sales picked up although from the mid 1820s a decline set in. In 1861, when the Gladstone government removed empire preferential tariffs, exports almost dried up and the twin disasters of POWDERY MILDEW and PHYLLOXERA brought to an end the golden era.