• 3000 BC: Egyptians and Chinese are the first to ferment grapes to produce wine. Pyramid hieroglyphics show winemakers bemoaning three-tier system, since they can’t ship direct to other parts of ancient world.
• 2000 BC: Greeks and later Romans spread wine culture throughout the Mediterranean, and Romans produce first wine critics. Roman Empire collapses 2500 years later – certainly not a coincidence.
• 35 AD: Jesus turns water into wine. Wine Spectator gives His effort an 84, noting lack of oak and fruit.
• 12th Century: Henry II of England marries Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose dowry includes Bordeaux, to form pioneering multi-national wine company. The first cute labels, with names like Maiden’s Merlot and Days and Knights, appear on store shelves.
• 17th century: European colonizers fail to successfully grow grapes in North America. Among the most noticeable flops is Thomas Jefferson, which paves the way for Todd Kliman’s best-selling book, “The Wild Vine.”
• 1855: French announce first wine classification system, rating best wines in Bordeaux. Napa winemakers are furious and say they will wait for Robert Parker to invent scores before they make world-class wine.
• 1919: Prohibition, which outlawed the sale and manufacture of liquor in the U.S., begins. Hardly anyone stops drinking, and alcoholism rates may have increased.
• Mid-1980s: Cranky ex-sportswriter starts writing about wine. Cosmos yawns, but the cosmos never did like cheap wine anyway.
• 21st century: Wine consumption in U.S. is at record highs. But no one seems to be very happy, do they?
Cartoon courtesy Bocian at OpenClipArt, using a Creative Commons license