Go for the wines, but say it’s for the history.

Home to the charming La Petite France and Parc de l’Orangerie, France’s picturesque town of Strasbourg is home to exquisite Alsatian wines and possibly the oldest wine in the world.

Resting in an old cellar underneath the Hospices de Strasbourg is a wine that has been around since before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Because deep in this cellar, originally built in the 1300s but recently renovated in 1994, is a barrel that is still filled with wine from 1472.

The vat it is held in is designed in the ancient more almond-like shape—and the vat is technically called a “foudre.” Foudres were once popular throughout France, are significantly larger than oak barrels—filling 2,000-12,000 litres, minimizes oak extraction, allows less oxidation due to the thickness of the staves and thus preserves vineyard character better than oak barrels. However, because of their heftier price and higher maintenance they are not used as often as they once were.

Was 1472 a good year? Well, it was the year Amsterdam prohibited snowball fights and Leonardo da Vinci was proclaimed a master in Florence’s “Company of Artists.” But as for wine? That’s hard to say at this point.

Currently, the wine vat can be viewed but is protectively behind gated bars for security reasons. There have been very few tastings in its history—once in the 1500s, once more in the 1700s and the last tasting was by General Leclerc in 1944 upon the liberation of Strasbourg during World War II.

That said, we do know that the wine is a white Alsatian wine, with a 9.4 percent alcohol content, a complex nose and flavourful aromas that include eucalyptus, clove, coconut and thyme. Experts have taken samples over the years with modern analysis tools to make these discoveries.

And while you’re unlikely to sneak a taste of this particular wine, you might choose to either visit the wine cellar and museum during your free time in Strasbourg (your Cruise Manager can help you with any planning)—or choose to enjoy the region’s sublime wines while toasting to its wonderful history!

Strasbourg of course is the capital of Alsace, which is one of the top wine areas in wine-rich France. The region is often considered France’s white wine capitol, and it is known for its highly aromatic flavors.

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