TWT News

The World’s Oldest Bottle of Wine

Speyer, GermanyA few miles south of Heidelberg, the quiet town of Speyer, Germany hadn’t seen many revitalization attempts until around the turn of the 19th century. Known as one of the oldest towns in Germany, Speyer became subject to a new era of industry where rapid growth fueled new age development. While in the process of renovating in 1867, an excavation team made a shocking discovery when they unearthed a tomb, believed to have been sealed around the 4th century.

For weeks a team of researchers had been digging as they carefully excavated the unopened tomb. A few painstaking moments later, the door of the tomb opens to reveal two sarcophagi, one holding the body of a man and the other holding the body of a woman.

oldest bottle of wine
Photo: Uwe Anspach

Among the contents of the tomb, a dust-covered 1.5 liter bottle with handles shaped like dolphins contained a murky concoction that researchers later determined to be wine. Sitting undisturbed for 1,693 years, the bottle of wine dates back to the year 325AD.

Dubbed “The Speyer Bottle,” this ancient bottle of wine was likely made using local grapes that were planted during Roman rule. The unusually well-made bottle remained air tight for over 1,000 years thanks to a wax seal and thick layer of olive oil inside the bottle which helped keep the wine from evaporating. The residue inside no longer resembles wine: it consists of dark mass surrounded by a milky liquid.Oldest Bottle of Wine

Today, the bottle sits on display in the Historical Museum of Palatinate, still unopened for fear of how the contents within would react with the air.  Since it has been on display, museum officials say that they have seen no variation in the bottle.  Although it may not look visually appealing, researchers believe the wine is actually still okay to drink…it just might not taste that great.