You may enjoy nothing more than a glass of wine, but how much do you really know about it's history? The first sips of wine can be dated back to 7000 BC in China and the oldest evidence of a winery dates back to 4100 BC in Armenia. The concept of wine was extremely important in history and tells the story of culture, people, and society. Wine was used to tell the tales of Noah after the Great Flood, of Dionysus in Greek Mythology, King Jamshid in Persian legend, and King Tutankhamun in Ancient Egypt. Since wine predates written history, it can be used in place of language to understand more about our past. Some of these historic wines are still around today and you can visit or even buy them.
4. Chateau Lafite Rothschild
Dating back to 1787, this French bottle was auctioned at Christie’s of London in 1985 for $156,450. It is the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold because it has become a part of history. Etched in the bottle are the initials “Th. J” which some have suggested are the initials of Thomas Jefferson. During the auction, the Christie’s wine department consulted with local glass experts who confirmed the bottle is authentic and can be traced back to when Jefferson served as the United States Minister to France between 1785 and 1789.
3. Tokaji from the Royal Saxon Cellars
This particular Tokaji bottle can be traced back to 1650 – 1690. It was part of a collection of 62 bottles that were auctioned off in 1927 from the Royal Cellar of Augustus II. Augustus II was the king of Poland at the time and is also known as Augustus the Strong. This wine is expected to be part of his royal collection and is said the be the oldest intact Tokaji bottle still in existence.
2. Strasbourg Wine Barrel
There is a wine cellar underneath the Strasbourg City Hospital in France which is known as the oldest barrel-stored winery in the world. The Strasbourg Wine Barrel that was located here is marked with the date of 1473 and still contains drinkable wine. The wine from the barrel has only been tasted three times during its lifetime – once in 1576 to celebrate the alliance between Strasbourg in Zurich, a second time in 1716 after the hospital was burned down, and lastly in 1944 when Strasbourg was freed in Word War II.
1. Speyer Wine Bottle
This wine bottle dates back to 325 – 350 AD, and is known as the oldest wine in the world. It was dug up in 1867 as part of 16 bottles that were hidden inside a sarcophagus in a Roman nobleman’s grave. Out of the 16 found, this bottle was the only one still intact. Since the bottle was sealed with wax and olive oil, the liquid has been preserved to this day. However, the time has rendered the liquid non-alcoholic. You can see the bottle on display at the Pfalz Historical Museum in Speyer, Germany.
Throughout history, wine was extremely important to mark celebrations, alliances, partnerships, and other social events. Therefore, the preservation of wine has allowed historians to discover many key elements about our past. Think about that the next time you drink a glass of wine.
Photo by Maja Petric on