December 3, 1855: On this day, Merlot was first recorded in Italy in the vicinity of Venice with the name Bord. The grape was brought to Switzerland from Bordeaux at some point during the 19th century, and its first appearance in Switzerland was documented in the canton of Ticino between 1905 and 1910. The decade of 1990s saw a rise in consumption of Merlot throughout the United States.

December 3, 1866: On this day, Edward Hincks, a prominent Assyriologist and scholar of cuneiform, died. During the early 1850s, Hincks did a huge amount of work to finally decipher the cuneiform writing system used in ancient Mesopotamia. The Sumerians had originally developed this, the earliest known form of writing, about 3300 BC to facilitate the trade of goods like wine in Mesopotamia between cities like Ur and Uruk along the course of the River Euphrates and River Tigris. In 1857 Hincks and three others were sent samples of various cuneiform by the British Royal Asiatic Society. When the transcriptions they sent back mirrored each other in all main particulars, the society declared cuneiform to have been cracked. It was only in the decades that followed that scholars became aware of the centrality of the wine trade to the evolution of cuneiform as tablets from five millennia ago surfaced showing that the script was used in ancient times to record details of wine imports and exports to the cities of Mesopotamia. For more information, see M. L. Bierbrier’s entry on Edward Hincks in Brian Harrison and H.C.G. Matthew (eds.), The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 60 Vols. (Oxford, 2004).

December 3, 1913: On this day, Alexis Lichine was born in Moscow. Lichine was a salesman who promoted the labeling of varietals. He also owned Château Prieuré-Lichine, and was a partial owner of Château Lascombes. He passed away on June 1, 1989.

December 3, 2001: On this day, Ayatha Dessert Wine was recognized in the international market with its origin in Myanmar. The wine, made from Red Muscat, is light red and has an aroma loaded with honey, muscat, and dried wild berries. The complexity and full-bodied character of this wine may be attributed to the fact that it retains some of its original sugar. This wine has a lingering aftertaste from the intense mouthfeel of honey, cherry, peach, and chocolate, as well as tropical fruit.

For more dates in wine history, click here.