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October 10, 2023

5,000-Year-Old Wine Jars Discovered—Could They Still Be Good?

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: , , — admin @ 8:57 pm

Archaeologists recently discovered hundreds of well-preserved jars containing remnants of what’s estimated to be 5,000-year-old wine along with grape seeds, according to a Newsweek story. During an archaeological dig at the Egyptian city of Abydos, the ancient jars were unearthed at the royal tomb site of an Egyptian queen.

Now, if you’re thinking this sounds like a deleted scene from an Indiana Jones movie, you’re not wrong. Some immediate (and valid) questions for wine enthusiasts might pop up along the lines of, “Are these jars even safe to open?” and “Should we even think about tasting that wine?”

With plenty of research left to be done, the possibility that this find could provide some insight on ancient wine production and extending the life of wine beyond what we know today remains active. With that in mind, we tapped our resident wine connoisseur and correspondent, Matthew J. Kaner for his expertise on the matter.

“Storing wine for the long haul takes the perfect storm of cool to cold weather conditions, lack of light exposure, minimal movement, and access to humidity,” said Kaner, who’s a decorated sommelier and CEO of a wine consulting business. “When all those line up, a well made wine can last generations!”

White wine and old jug

Getty Images

Some jars found at the archaeological site are unopened. And given the top-notch preservation methods of ancient Egyptians, it isn’t out of the question that they might still contain wine—or something resembling it. But they were buried in a tomb. Is that as good as a wine cellar or cooler?

“Using the earth as a womb for your wine is one of your best ways to age wine long-term without much additional cost to your efforts,” says Kaner. “Even on a hot day, the core of earth alongside the foundation of your house or apartment building is many, many degrees cooler.”

So, minimal movement: Check. Low light exposure: Check. But what about everything we’ve heard about the benefits of storing wine at room temperature? According to Kaner, that depends on if you’re enjoying wine over the short-term or long-term.

“Common misconceptions with storing wine often include people thinking they shouldn’t store [it] in their refrigerator,” said Kaner. “If the other option is to store it standing up, room temperature, in your house or apartment, the colder environment is way better suited to give the wine a long life. Room temperature will not hurt a wine in the short term, but overtime it’ll age the wine quicker, especially at low humidity.”

Related: 5 Tips for Choosing a Good Wine

The 5,000-year-old sticker might give pause to anyone thinking of tasting whatever wine is left in the excavated jars—though any data that’s derived from the samples could improve or totally revolutionize the way we produce and store wine.

“The oldest wine I have tasted is from the 17th Century, and believe me I’d love to taste something 5,000 years old,” said Kaner. “Whatever fruit was in the wine would have dropped off many millennia ago, but the umami characteristics and tertiary notes would be absolutely fascinating to try.”

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