Good Grapes: 10 Oldest Wines in the World

Written by Kristen Holder
Published: December 29, 2022
Share on:

Advertisement


Consuming ethanol began long ago via overripe fruit to the point that the enzymes created by the human liver are ten percent dedicated to creating energy from alcohol. Wine is one of the oldest fermented beverages on earth and it has driven the global cultivation of good grapes. What are 10 of the oldest wines in the world?

What makes a good wine are its grapes though processing methods also make a difference. Sipping a wine allows you to taste the water, soil, air, and technique from a snapshot of time in specific places. The United States, Chile, France, Italy, Argentina, and more are places you can travel via your taste buds.

Winemaking began during the Neolithic period between 8500 BCE and 4000 BCE. While wine is famous for increasing in value as it ages, it will age to a point that it isn’t drinkable if left too long. Despite this, wine is a time capsule and some are designed to be savored centuries after it was created.

What are the 10 oldest wines and good grapes in the world? We’ll discuss it now.

10 Oldest Wines in the World

grapes

Winemaking began during the Neolithic period between 8500 BCE and 4000 BCE.

©Ton Photographer 4289/Shutterstock.com

Some of the oldest wines in the world are:

  1. Commandaria: 5,000 Years Old
  2. Speyer Wine Bottle from 350 CE
  3. Strasbourg Hospital Wine from 1472 CE
  4. Žametovka Maribor Wine is 350 Years Old
  5. Kloster Eberbach Wine from 1706 CE
  6. Rüdesheimer Apostelwein Wine from 1727 CE
  7. Vin Jaune d’Arbois from 1774 CE
  8. Chateau Margaux from 1787 CE
  9. Turkey Flat Shiraz Since 1847
  10. Penfolds Kalima Block 42 Since 1888 CE

10. Oldest Continual Cabernet Sauvignon: Penfolds Kalimna Block 42 Since 1888 CE

An area of the Penfolds Kalimna Vineyard in Australia’s Barossa Valley called Block 42 fuels the creation of the oldest cabernet sauvignon under continual production.

The vines have been alive and providing good grapes since 1888. This wine sells for approximately 700 dollars a bottle from a variety of retailers.

9. Oldest Commercial Wine in Australia: Turkey Flat Shiraz Since 1847 CE

Australia on the map

Turkey Flat, in the

Barossa Valley

in Australia, has been making wine since 1847 CE.

©iStock.com/AlexKosev

The oldest commercially produced wine that’s still being created is Turkey Flat’s shiraz. Turkey Flat, in the Barossa Valley in Australia, has been making wine since 1847 CE. A bottle from the oldest vines, called “The Ancestor,” is available starting at a little over one hundred dollars depending on the year.

The name “Turkey Flat” refers to birds that the original Prussian colonists in the region observed. They were Australian bustards that looked vaguely like domesticated European turkeys. Today, they are rarely seen near the vineyard though they’re an animal of Least Concern according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

8. Oldest Spilled Wine: Chateau Margaux from 1787 CE

On April 23, 1989, a bottle of Chateau Margaux from 1787 France was broken. Bill Sokolin, a wine merchant and the owner of a 1787 Chateau Margaux, spilled eighty percent of the contents of the bottle at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan, NY.

The wine bottle was insured at 225,000 dollars so it wasn’t a total loss. He had been asking 519,750 dollars for it originally and he had paid 212,000 dollars to buy it. The little bit left was consumed by Sokolin and others who said it still tasted like wine but wasn’t good.

7. Oldest Bottle of French Wine: Vin Jaune d’Arbois from 1774 CE

White wine pouring into glasses, closeup

This wine was a yellow wine originating from the Jura region of eastern France.

©Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

The oldest bottles of French wine ever available to the public were three Vin Jaune bottles dating to 1774 CE that were auctioned off in 2018 in France. This wine was a yellow wine originating from the Jura region of eastern France. These bottles came from the Vercel family cellar in their historical winery and it’s a vintage from the same year that King Louis XVI took the throne.

The Jura Encheres sold the bottles to a Canadian buyer who then sells purchased wines to Americans. The highest price fetched for one bottle was over 120,000 dollars.

6. Oldest German White Wine: Rüdesheimer Apostelwein Wine from 1727 CE

Rüdesheimer Apostelwein wine originates from the cellar at the Bremer Ratskeller in Bremen, Germany. It dates back to 1727 CE.

Bottles of this wine cost roughly 200,000 dollars and it’s reported that it still tastes great because of its high sugar content. In the 1960s, it was transferred from its old barrel into bottles.

5. Oldest German Red Wine: Kloster Eberbach Wine from 1706 CE

Mustang Grapes

This deconsecrated monastery is also the oldest wine producer in Germany.

©CatherineTheGreat/Shutterstock.com

The oldest German red wine is a Kloster Eberbach wine from 1706 CE. This winery has been around since 1136 CE and this red is the oldest wine left in their cellar. This deconsecrated monastery is also the oldest wine producer in Germany.

Located in Eltville am Rhein in Germany, Kloster Eberbach was a Cistercian monastery for the Catholic church. After it was turned over for secular use to the state, it first became an asylum and then a prison. It’s now an entertainment venue and the government continues to maintain the vineyard.

4. Oldest Grapevine: Žametovka Grapevine in Maribor is 350 Years Old

In Northeastern Slovenia in the city of Maribor, the oldest fruit-bearing grapevine is still fueling winemaking efforts. It’s over 350 years old and was salvaged in the 1980s before the house it’s attached to was demolished because of neglect. It’s now thriving again and it is the main attraction at a festival in its honor around harvest time.

Up to roughly 120 pounds of red grapes are produced by the vine every year and turned into wine. It is then bottled into approximately one hundred tiny bottles.

The grape variety is called Žametovka and it’s one of the oldest grapes in the region. Grafts from this vine trimmed off during a pruning event are distributed to wine connoisseurs around the world.

3. Oldest Casked Wine: Strasbourg Hospital Wine from 1472 CE

wine and cask with glass

Most people that were rich enough for a hospital also had a finger in the wildly popular wine business.

©JirkaBursik/Shutterstock.com

The oldest casked wine is a Strasbourg wine from the Grand Est region in France. On January 21, 2015, the Historic Cellars of the Hospices de Strasbourg transferred a 1472 wine into a new cask for safekeeping. This cask was specially designed to retain the characteristics of the one it was replacing.

The cellar where this wine still lives was built between 1393 and 1395 and it was part of a hospital. One of the reasons that a hospital needed a wine cellar in the Middle Ages was as a way of storing payment. When someone that needed medical attention was too broke to afford services, wine was used instead of money.

Most people that were rich enough for a hospital also had a finger in the wildly popular wine business. A cellar helped the hospital store this liquid currency. The stored wine was also believed to have medicinal qualities and the cellar allowed for accessible wine which was used for a myriad of ailments.

A few centuries later, the hospital traded and sold wine it created itself. Today, local artisans own and run the cellar according to the standards from the fifteenth century.

2. Oldest Unopened Wine Bottle: The Speyer Wine Bottle from 350 CE

The Speyer Wine Bottle is the oldest unopened bottle of wine in the world. It was most likely created around 350 CE and it was found in the tomb of a noble couple.

The Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany owns this bottle of wine. It was found locally and it dates back to Ancient Roman times.

Since the bottle hasn’t been opened, the exact makeup of the liquid inside is up for conjecture. The museum that owns it doesn’t want to open it in case air exposure damages it. What is known is that there are unidentified herbs suspended in it and that it isn’t wine anymore due to its extreme age.

In all other tombs and archaeological digs from this period, the liquid in intact bottles was gone. This one is unique because the wax seal on the opening and a large amount of olive oil poured into the bottle minimized evaporation. Since wine is water-based, the olive oil was suspended over the wine and it is the main reason the liquid was preserved over a millennium.

1. Oldest Type of Wine: Commandaria Is 5,000 Years Old

grape vine at cyprus winery

Knights involved with the crusades in the 1200s named the wine after their newly acquired protectorate.

©Geraldick/Shutterstock.com

Commandaria has probably been produced in Limassol, Cypress for 5,000 years. Knights involved with the crusades in the 1200s named the wine after their newly acquired protectorate. It has a history of exportation and this tradition continues today through Australia, Scandinavia, France, Russia, and the United States.

It’s a dessert wine that requires specific grape handling. Once they’ve been picked, they’re left in the sun for ten days. This increases the density of the fruit’s sugar. The grapes are then pressed, fortified, and stored for a minimum of two years in oak barrels.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © JirkaBursik/Shutterstock.com


Sources

  1. Science Direct, Available here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212977418300619
Share on:
About the Author

Kristen Holder is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics related to history, travel, pets, and obscure scientific issues. Kristen has been writing professionally for 3 years, and she holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of California, Riverside, which she obtained in 2009. After living in California, Washington, and Arizona, she is now a permanent resident of Iowa. Kristen loves to dote on her 3 cats, and she spends her free time coming up with adventures that allow her to explore her new home.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.