World Alcohol and Drinking History Timeline

From the Great Depression,
through War and Prosperity

From About 1930 to 1980

By 1930, an economic depression had begun around the world that greatly affected societies. In the U.S., National Prohibition was under increasing attacks by those who wished to repeal it. Many people wanted to legalize alcoholic beverages to stimulate employment and increase tax revenues.

World War II also had a profound effect on economic, political, social and other spheres of life. That included drinking patterns. Following the war, there was a dramatic increase in prosperity around the world.

Note: This timeline presents events in the history of alcohol and drinking during the period of the Great Depression, War and Prosperity, in chronological order. When events are listed as having occurred within a period of time, such as 1939-1945, they are listed before more specifically dated events, such as 1939.

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Post-1933

1934

The Wine Institute was established by California vintners.5

1935

1936

The Federal Alcohol Administration Act was enacted, enabling the U.S. federal government to regulate alcoholic beverages.10

1938

Phylloxera and powdery mildew had devastated New Zealand vinyards and by 1938 there were fewer than 200 acres remaining.11

1939-1945

Although British and French allied soldiers were given generous alcohol rations, American soldiers were expected to be abstainers.12

Adolf Hitler was one of the world's best known teetotalers or abstainers from alcohol; his adversary during World War II, Sir Winston Churchill, was one of the world's best known heavy drinkers.13

1939

Alcoholics Anonymous published its book, Alcoholics Anonymous, which quickly becomes known as The Big Book.14

1940

1941

The annual consumption of absolute alcohol per capita in the U.S. rose to 1.5 gallons from about one gallon the year after prohibition (1934).18

1942

Temperance leaders tried to have alcohol prohibition imposed on all U.S. military bases and installations.19

1943

The Yale Center of Alcohol Studies was established. It was moved in 1962 to become the Rutgers University Center of Alcohol Studies.20

1944

1946-1976

1946

The annual average per capita consumption of absolute alcohol in the U.S. reached the pre-Prohibition level of about two gallons.25

1947

Quarrying of the gravel in abandoned vineyards began in the Medoc, destroying their future use as vineyards, a process that continues in the twenty-first century.26

1948

1949

Late 1940s-1950s

1950s

“By the 1950s, Malbec was one of the most widely cultivated wine grapes in Argentina, with over 120,000 acres under cultivation.”33 The wines would later set international standards for what this variety coiuld achieve.34

1951

Max Schubert, a winemaker at Australia’s Penfolds, began experimenting with what would later become known as Penfolds Grange. It is now recognized as Australia’s most iconic wine and one of the very best in the world.35

1953

1954

1955

Sweden abandoned its Bratt (or motbok) government monopoly rationing system that was introduced in 1917.39

1956

Demographer Sully Ledermann proposed his influential, albeit controversial, single distribution model of consumption distribution.40

1959

The best white wines in the Graves district of Bordeaux were classified, the reds having been classified in 1953.41

1960-1990s

Lager began to become the dominant style of beer in the U.S., which it achieved by the 1990s.42

1960

E.M. Jellinek published The Disease Concept of Alcoholism. It described his now generally ignored five types of alcoholism: alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and epsilon. Jellinek is known for asserting that “A disease is what the medical profession recognizes as such.”43

1961

Excellent weather conditions led to the best Bordeaux vintage in almost 20 years.44

1962

1963

1966

1967

When breathalyzers (blood alcohol content estimators) were first introduced in the U.S. in 1944, the maximum legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .15, or almost twice as high as the current standard of .08. This was based on a recommendation by the American Medical Association.

1968

1969

Drs. Craig MacAndrew and Robert Edgerton published their influential book, Drunken Comportment: A Social Explanation.55

1970s

The Potter fermenter, named after its inventer, Australian Ron Potter, is a patented stainless-steel tank that allows vintners to control the temperature of their musts. It became standard equipment in most wineries during the decade.56

1970

1971

Germany passed a wine law to bring the country into conformity with the mandates of the European Economic Commnity (EEC).59

1972

Chateau-bottling became compulsory for classified wines in Bordeaux.60

1973

1975

The first commercial vineyard was planted in Denmark. The EU has subsequently and inexplicably limited total growth in the entire country at 245 acres.64

1976

1977

“In 1977, the first of what would later come to be known as microbreweries opened in Sonoma, California.”67

1978

1979

New World wine continued to demonstrate the quality it could achieve. Three years after the Judgment of Paris competition opened eyes, it occurred again “at the Gault-Millau Wine Olympics [when] another icon of French winemaking fell. A 1971 Penfolds Grance Hermitage, an Australian Shiraz, walked away with a first prize in Shiraz, a field long dominated by the French.” 72

 

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Resources

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