The origins of wine predate written records, and archaeologists remain uncertain about the details of the first cultivation of wild grapevines. However, with the transition from a nomadic to sedentary lifestyle around 10,000 BC came agriculture, and later, the domestication of wine.
There are many etiological legends about the first cultivation of grapes and wine production, including mentions in the Biblical Book of Genesis and Greek Mythology. The consumption of wine also holds religious and cultural meaning, as evident in many traditions and practices that have been followed for centuries. With the European expansion during the 15th century, both wine fermentation and drinking increased, undergoing advancement and adaptation with modern technology and science.
The Roman Empire had one of the most impactful influences on wine science and grape-harvesting, turning it into a precise business. Wine was an integral part of the Roman diet and all three major wine-producing regions in modern Western Europe were established during the Roman Imperial era. Wine was celebratory and medicinal, and winemaking technology considerably improved during this period.
One such bottle from this era is also the world’s oldest sealed vessel that presumably contains wine. Uncovered from a Roman tomb found near Speyer, Germany in 1867 and dated between 325 and 350 AD. Since its discovery, the Speyer bottle has been exhibited in the Wine Museum at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate.
While it has purportedly lost its ethanol content, analysis of the wine in the bottle is reliable in that at least part of the liquid was wine, likely produced in the Speyer region and diluted with a mixture of herbs.
The exact story behind this bottle may never be known, nevertheless, the wine remains rare and priceless.
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