Landmarks and Wineculture Details
The Roman Wine of Speyer - the Oldest Liquid Wine in the World
Landmarks of German Wine Culture: Pfalz
This is the oldest wine of the world – and it is still liquid at its core. The Historical Museum of Pfalz in Speyer guards one of the biggest treasures of viticulture in all of Germany - wine from around the year 325 AD, preserved in a yellow-green cylindrical glass bottle adorned with two handles shaped like dolphins.
The vessel was found in 1867 when archeologists discovered a tomb in Speyer with two sarcophagi – 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 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 though, was some sort of liquid preserved. The bottle contains a residue of a clear liquid and, above that, filling about two thirds of the bottle- a firm resinous mixture. Analyses have shown at least parts of the liquid to have once been wine, although there's definitely no alcohol left in it.
Experts explained why wine survived in this particular bottle by looking at the mixture. A small 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 from oxygen. The amount of olive oil, however, was so thick and tight that its resin-like texture sufficed to conserve the Roman Wine for more than 1680 years.
The Roman Wine is not the only thing to bear witness to the 2000 years of viticulture in the Palatinate: The Museum of Wine, a small part of the Historical Museum of Pfalz, documents the history of viticulture along the Rhine and its side valleys with a range of other exhibits. Wine presses and elaborate wooden casks can be seen as well as a wine bottle from the 1687 vintage, that was found on the Steinauer vineyard near Naumburg on the Saale river in 1913. This is the oldest wine bottle in Germany that is still completely filled with wine.
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