This Week’s Wine Wisdom
In the Middle Ages, the most innovative winemakers were monastic orders. The Cistercians and Benedictines were particularly apt winemakers, and they are said to have tasted the earth to discover how the soil changed from place to place.
Wineskins were a common way to transport wine in the ancient world. Animal skins (usually pig) were cleaned and tanned and turned inside out so that the hairy side was in contact with the wine.
The world’s oldest bottle of wine was found near the town of Speyer, Germany. The bottle was discovered inside one of two Roman stone sarcophaguses that were dug up. The bottle dates from approximately 325 A.D. and was found in 1867. About two-thirds of the contents are a thicker, hazy mixture. This is most probably olive oil, which the Romans commonly used to “float” atop wine to preserve it from oxidation. Their oil method of preservation was apparently effective enough to keep the wine from evaporation up to modern day. The bottle is on permanent display, along with other wine antiquities, at the Historisches Museum der Pfalz (History Museum of the Pfalz), worth a visit if traveling near the area of Speyer, Germany.