World’s oldest bottle of wine is almost 1,700 years old

How has the wine survived, and can it really be worth a fortune?

Wine is said to improve with age, but everything has its limits. Experts aren't holding out a lot of hope for the quality of one bottle, which has been dated to the year 350AD. It's known as the Speyer wine, after the region in Germany where it was found, and it's thought to be the world's oldest bottle of wine.

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It was reportedly one of sixteen such bottles discovered in the mid-1800s, within the tomb of a noble Roman couple who had been buried in the area. However, it was the only one that survived the centuries intact.

According to the online blog, Vintage News, the bottle itself is 1.5l in volume. It's made of glass and has amphora-like sturdy shoulders, which are yellowish green in colour. It also has handles shaped in the form of dolphins.

Its longevity has been attributed to a healthy dose of olive oil poured on top of the wine in order to block it from the air, and prevent it breaking down. However, there are conflicting opinions about whether any alcohol remains.

Experts have been debating the merits of trying to open the bottle. The curator of the museum where it is stored says they are not sure whether or not it could stand the shock to the air.

What's it worth?

The bottle itself has never been valued, so we can only assume that collectors would be willing to pay a fortune for an ancient bottle that's undrinkable. After-all, the owners of the world's most expensive bottles of wine paid so much for them, that they are highly unlikely ever to drink them either.

The world's most expensive sherry, for example, dates from 1775, and sold in 2001 for $43,500. Meanwhile the world's most expensive white wine was a Chateau d'Yquem, which dates from 1787, and sold in 2006 for $100,000. The most expensive standard bottle of wine ever sold was a bottle of Chateau Lafite 1878, which sold for $156,450 in 1985. And who could ever afford to drink a bottle of wine worth more than some houses?

But what do you think? Can an ancient and undrinkable wine really be worth more than a nice bottle of Sauvignon on a summer's evening? Which would you rather have?

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