World’s Oldest Unopened Bottle of Wine Remains Sealed Since the 4th Century

World's Oldest Bottle of Unopened Wine

Wine has a long and rich history in human existence that predates even written records—but suffice to say that our love affair with the beverage is ancient. One theory postulates that the fermentation of alcohol took off sometime between 10,000 to 8,000 BC, thanks to the shift from nomadic to more settled culture. Because people were staying in one place, they began raising crops that eventually lead to the production of wine.

We don’t have any bottles left from that early era, but there is one variety that dates back much farther than any of us have been alive. So, how old is the oldest bottle of wine? Known as Römerwein, or the Speyer wine bottle, it’s at least 1,650 years old. This dates back to the 4th century, sometime between 325 and 359 AD. The 1.5-liter glass vessel was discovered during the excavation of a Roman nobleman’s tomb in modern-day Germany.

If you’re wondering what wine this old smells or even tastes like, experts still do not know. They are uncertain what would happen to the liquid if it were exposed to air, so it has stayed sealed with a thick stopper of wax and olive oil. At this point, whatever alcohol was in there is probably long gone.

This incredible piece of history is now on display at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany, where only one man will handle the bottle because everyone else is “just too afraid.”

The world's oldest bottle of wine is probably older than you think. It's at least 1,650 years old!

Called the Römerwein, or Speyer wine bottle, it dates back to the 4th century.

Oldest Bottle of Wine

Photo: Historical Museum of the Palatinate

Experts are unsure of how the bottle would react once opened, so it has remained tightly sealed.

Oldest Bottle of Wine

Photo: DPA

h/t: [Open Culture]

Related Articles:

Illustrated Timeline Presents Women’s Fashion Every Year from 1784-1970

30 Years of Graffiti Chipped Off a Wall Reveals Colorful Layers of Decades-Old Art

19th-Century Tool Box is Meticulously Designed to Hold 300 Tools

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content