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The Speyer Wine Bottle

The history of wine is now believed to predate written history. The exact date when humans started cultivating grapes for fermenting into wine is unknown. However, it is assumed that humans have been gathering berries since almost the beginning of time. Throughout the ages, they may have accidentally discovered the fermentation process when they left the berries sitting too long. Then observed that the fermentation produced a liquid with an even more pleasurable taste and effect.

Current archaeological evidence proves wine production existed in modern day Georgia as early as 6,000 – 5,800 BC. Investigating the archeological records of wine cultures from different regions results in different assumptions about the origin of wine production. However, one thing has remained constant among the ancient and modern wine cultures, i.e., the opening of wine bottles after sealing. The value given to a wine bottle determines its opening time.For instance, wines left to age are generally considered to be higher quality and of greater value.

The discovery of the Speyer Wine Bottle in a Roman tomb near the Speyer area in Germany, broke the modern historical record of the oldest unopened wine bottle.

The Bottle was found in 1867 and is believed to contain a fair amount of quality wine. The site where it was found, the Rhineland-Palatine region in Germany, is believed to be the oldest settlement in that area. Analysis of the relic shows that ancient humans also preserved high quality wine bottles.

The Bottle has attracted the attention of many researchers and historians through the years. According to report by a renowned historian Mohan, the wine bottle dates around 325 and 359 AD, making it the oldest unopened wine bottle to date[2]. The Speyer Wine Bottle remains one of the most valuable wine bottles in the world today.

Currently, the Speyer Wine Bottle is stored in the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer and is displayed in the Tower Room. The bottle has a 1.5-liter volume and is a glass vessel with yellowish-green amphora-like sturdy shoulders. It has handles that are shaped in the form of dolphins. The shape and decoration resemble the modern appearance of expensive wine bottles, showcasing the rich history of wine bottles. The preservation technique of the wine bottle, which includes a thick mix of olive oil and wax seal, was meant to protect the bottle’s content from the outside environment. Such preventive measures show how people valued wine at the time.

Despite the efforts of some scientists to open the bottle and analyze the content for quality, it remains sealed to protect the rich wine history it represents.

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References

[1] Ram Mohan, ‘1700-yr-old Speyer wine, 3,200-yr-old cheese: A look at the world’s oldest food discoveries’ The Economic Times (2021, April 04), pp. 2; https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/1700-yr-old-speyer-wine-3200-yr-old-cheese-a-look-at-the-worlds-oldest-food-discoveries/articleshow/81894591.cms

[2] Ibid 2

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