The Oldest Wine Bottle
The Speyer is also known as the Römerwein aus Speyer, is the oldest wine bottle in history, dating back to 325 A.D and 350 A.D. It is named so because of its discovery from the tomb of a Roman noble in the region of what is now the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany near 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 content showed no change in the last few decades of his personal observations.
This 1.5-litter yellow-green wine bottle has amphora-like shoulders and handles shaped like dolphins. This ancient artifact is still unopened and is intact because it was sealed with wax and olive oil. Some analysts are of the opinion that the bottle has lost most its ethanol contents. However, it has a smaller part of wine at the bottom. The wine preservation is attributed to the thick layer of wax and olive oil that kept the wine and herb mixture isolated from the impacts of the air.
The wine bottle was discovered in 1867 when two tombs were excavated near the city of Spyre. One tomb was of a rich Roman nobleman and another of a noblewoman. During the excavation, 10 bottles were found in the man’s tomb and 6 in the woman’s tomb. All others were empty or shattered except the Speyer, that survived in the original shape and was filled with the wine.
There are various stories regarding the identity of nobleman and the custom of burying wines with them. According to one, the nobleman was a Roman Legionnaire deputed in the area. As Romans believed in the afterlife, deceased were buried with valuable goods and dietary items. They believed that a dead person might haunt them and use them hereafter.
There are some other rituals that symbolize the prestige of wines since 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 especially God of wine and ecstasy. At those times, wine was part of 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. The ancient Greeks would disregard a person 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 the casks of wine. 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 wine aged wine, it is a general fact that the older the wine, the better it will be. However, the quality of the oldest wine from the Speyer 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 has disappeared.
According to the researchers, it can be drinkable without killing, but it may not taste good. It is stored in the Museum of the Palatinate in Germany. The staff of the museum is too afraid to handle it, and no one dares to open it. The staff of the museum and microbiologists suggest not to open it. As it may not survive air pressure after so long.