Currently I'm reading "A History of The World in 6 Glasses" by Tom Standage. So far it's fantastic! It follows the history of humanity through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola and is filled with lots of fun facts (like why we clink glasses and why we toast each other on special occasions).
I especially appreciate the chapters on wine and beer. There is a lot of historical detail in this book, and it's really helped me in writing my story. It's clear Standage really did his homework.
So if you are an author of historical fiction and want to know how drink affected the time you're writing about or just love to fill your head with trivia, I HIGHLY recommend this book!
Here are a few fun facts right from the source:
1) "Mesopotamian brewers could control the tast and color of beer by adding different amounts of bappir, or beer-bread. To make it, sprouted barley was shaped into lumps which were baked twice to produce a dark crunchy unleavened bread that could be stored for years before being crumbled into the brewer's vat."
2) "'To make a beer hall' and 'to sit in the beer hall' were popular Egyptian expressions that meant to have a good time or to carouse, while the Sumerian expression a 'pouring of beer' referred to a banquet or celebratory feast.."
3) "The earliest physical evidence for [wine], in the form of reddish residue inside a pottery jar, comes from Hajji Firuz Tepe, a Neolithic village in the Zagros Mountains [in Northern Iran]."