The Oldest Wine Bottle In The World
The Speyer Bottle, also known as the Römerwein aus Speyer, is the oldest wine bottle in history, dating back sometime between 325 A.D and 350 A.D. It gets its name due to where it was discovered; from the tomb of a Roman noble in the modern-day region of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany near the city of Speyer. The bottle is showcased in the Wine Museum section of the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer. According to the museum curator, the bottle’s contents have shown no change in the last few decades.
This 1.5-liter yellow-green wine bottle has amphora-like shoulders and handles shaped like dolphins. This ancient artifact has remained unopened and is still sealed with wax and olive oil. Some analysts are of the opinion that the bottle has lost most of its ethanol contents. However, they believe there is a small part of wine at the bottom. The wine’s preservation is attributed to a thick layer of wax and olive oil that has kept the wine and herb mixture safe from the impacts of air.
The wine bottle was discovered in 1867 when two tombs were excavated near the city of Speyer. One tomb belonged to a rich Roman nobleman and the other to a Roman noblewoman. During the excavation, 10 bottles were found in the man’s tomb and 6 in the woman’s tomb. All the others were empty or shattered except the Speyer Bottle.
There are various stories regarding the identity of noblemen and the custom of burying wines with the dead. According to one, the nobleman was a Roman Legionnaire deputed to the area. As Romans believed in an afterlife, the deceased were buried with valuable goods and dietary items. They believed that a dead person could use these items hereafter.
Wine in Ancient Times
Some other rituals symbolize the prestige of wines in ancient times. Here are some interesting ancient facts about wine.
Ancient Greeks had a deity named Dionysus, who was the God of vegetation, fertility, and most importantly wine and ecstasy. In those times, wine was part of the Roman religion, a staple diet, and even medicine for many diseases. Everyone including women and slaves would drink wine for health, spiritual, and medical purposes. Even soldiers were obliged to drink a liter of wine daily.
Did You Know: The Ancient Greeks would disregard a person as a barbarian if he refused to drink wine.
The cultural significance of wine in Roman civilization is also evident in the case of Sparta. In Sparta, newborn boys were bathed in wine casks. If they would react\ poorly and cry, they would be considered weak and left to die in the wilderness or saved by strangers. Those who survived would be raised by their families.
Regarding the quality of aged wine, it is generally believed that the older the wine, the better it will be. However, the quality of the wine from the Speyer Bottle is questionable. It was analyzed by a chemist during WW1, but he also did not open it. Many wine quality analysts think that the ethanol content of wine in Speyer Bottle has disappeared.
According to the researchers, it is drinkable, but it probably wouldn’t taste good. The staff at the museum where it resides are too afraid to handle it, and no one dares open it. The staff of the museum and microbiologists suggest not to open it, as it may not survive the air after being sealed for so long.