Deutsches Weininstitut Bannergrafik

The Roman Wine of Speyer: The oldest Wine of the World that's still liquid

This is the oldest wine of the world – and it is still liquid at its core. The Historical Museum of Palatinate in Speyer guards one of the biggest treasures of viticulture there is in all of Germany: Wine that stems probably from around the year 325 after Christ, preserved in a greenly-yellow glass bottle of a cylindrical form adorned with two handles shaped like dolphins.
 

Römischer Wein, 3. / 4. Jahrhundert n.Chr. Quelle: Historisches Museum der Pfalz, SpeyerThe vessel was found in 1867 when archeologists discovered a tomb in Speyer with two sarcophagues – graves of a man and a woman, buried here in the 4th century.

Six glass vessels were found in the woman's tomb, ten vessels even in the sarcophagus of the man. Probably, all of them once contained liquids of various kinds, provisions for the dead on their long journey to the underworld. Only in one bottle, however, some sort of liquid was preserved – our wine bottle from 325. The bottle contains a residue of a clear liquid and, above that, filling about two thirds of the bottle- a firm rosin-like mixture. Analyses have shown at least parts of the liquid to have been wine, once - though there's definitely no alcohol left in it.

That wine should survive in exactly this bottle is explained by the experts with view to the mixture: A little amount of wine was once poured into the bottle together with a herbal mixture onto which a larger amount of olive oil was poured, thus conserving the wine by sealing it off from the oxygen. The amount of olive oil, however, was so thick and tight that its rosin-like texture sufficed to conserve the Roman Wine up to our present time – for more than 1680 years.

The Roman Wine is not the only thing to bear witness to the 2000 years of viticulture in Palatinate: The Museum of Wine, a small part of the Historical Museum of Palatinate in Speyer, documents with a range of other exhibits the history of viticulture along the Rhine and its side valleys. Thus, wine presses or ostentatious wine casks can be seen as well as a wine bottle from the vintage of 1687, found on the Steinauer vineyard near Naumburg on the Saale river in 1913: it is the oldest wine bottle in Germany that is still completely filled with wine.

 

 

 
More Pictures
  • Römischer Wein, 3. / 4. Jahrhundert n.Chr. Quelle: Historisches Museum der Pfalz, Speyer
 


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