How good would wine be that's been aged since 1700? 1700 B.C., that is….
Archaeologists have discovered what they think is one of the world's oldest known wine cellars in what is now present-day Israel.
"This is a hugely significant discovery -- it's a wine cellar that, to our knowledge, is largely unmatched in its age and size," said Eric Cline, a professor of anthropology at George Washington University, who was part of the team that unearthed the site.
The cellar was located near a hall where banquets took place, Cline said, in the 75-acre Tel Kabri site in Israel, the ruins of a city that dates back to about 1700 B.C.
The city was constructed and lived in by the Canaanites, a culture that existed in what is now Israel, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan and Syria.
Overall, 40 jars were found packed in a 15-by-25 foot storage room, Cline said.
The jars were broken and contained no wine, likely destroyed along with the banquet hall about 1600 B.C. in what researchers called "a violent event, perhaps an earthquake, which covered them with thick debris of mud bricks and plaster," according to Assaf Yasur-Landau of the University of Haifa in Israel, who was also part of the team.
The 40 jars held about 2,000 liters of liquid, meaning the cellar could have held the equivalent of nearly 3,000 bottles of red and white wine.
How do scientists know the broken jugs contained wine?
Andrew Koh, an assistant professor of classical studies at Brandeis University, analyzed the jar fragments and found traces of tartaric and syringic acids, both key ingredients in wine. He also found compounds that suggested other ingredients popular in ancient wines, such as honey, mint, cinnamon bark, juniper berries and resins.
The recipe is similar to medicinal wines that had been used for 2,000 years in ancient Egypt.