June 5, 1756: On in this day in 1756 Jean-Antoine Chaptal was born in Nogaret in in south-western France. In his long life he would go on to become a chemist, physician, statesman and agronomist. Chaptal had a specific interest in chemistry from early in his career and how it could be used to develop the French wine industry. Thus, when he came to writing his famous book, Traité théorique et pratique sur la culture de la vigne, meaning A theoretical and practical treatise on the cultivation of the vine, which was published in France in 1801, he popularised a method of strengthening the alcohol content of wine by adding more sugar to it during production. This method was actually developed by another French chemist called Pierre-Joseph Macquer, but in recognition of his role in popularising the method this form of wine amelioration has become known as chaptalization. For more information, see J. B. Gough’s ‘Winecraft and Chemistry in 18th Century France: Chaptal and the Invention of Chaptalization’, in Technology and Culture, Vol. 39, No.1 (Jan 1998). See also the entry ‘Chaptal, Jean-Antoine’, in Jancis Robinson, The Oxford Companion to Wine (Third Edition, Oxford, 2006).
June 5, 1799: On this day, Joseph Proust was the first person to extract sugar from grapes and prove that it was the same sugar present in honey. This sugar would subsequently be referred to as glucose.
June 5, 1911: On this day, the Champagne Riots began in France. Due to administrative maneuvering resulting in a loss of certain privileges within the Champagne appellation, wine makers in the Aube and Marne regions clashed, leading to bloodshed and the widespread destruction of vineyards, cellars, properties, and estates. The territorial fights were only quelled at the onset of World War I.
June 5, 1931: On this day, 22 charges of failing to pay federal income taxes from 1925 through 1929 were included in the indictment that was filed against Capone. On June 12, 1922, Capone and a few other persons were charged with conspiracy to breach the regulations governing Prohibition from 1922 through 1931. The month of October saw the beginning of Al Capone’s trial. He was found guilty on three of the 23 counts, and in addition to a fine of $50,000 and court costs, he was handed an 11-year sentence to serve in jail.
June 5, 1972: On this day, the Australian government granted Yarra Yering winery the license to sell and dispose of wine. The warm climate of the Yarra Valley in Australia is ideal for producing the different varieties of wine that Yarra Yering offers, one of the most renowned wineries in the Australian wine region for its history and its recent success with Sarah Crowe, the first woman to win the Winemaker of the Year award at the Halliday Wine Companion Awards.
For more dates in wine history, click here.