Now that I’ve described the hotel, on with the rest of the trip. I was actually kind of dreading trying to find dinner on Friday night. I used to wait tables, so I know what dining out on Valentine’s Day can be like, both for wait staff and patrons. We were unable to make dinner reservations anywhere special, so I had a feeling dinner would be spectacularly un-special. And that’s what ultimately came to pass…
But before dinner, we were keen to visit the The Historic Wine Cellar at Strasbourg Hospices. My German friend, Susanne, told me about this historic wine cave, which was created in the year 1395. The cellar was used for storing wine, but it was also used for storing other perishables like grain. Today, visitors can visit the caves free of charge and pick up a bottle or two of wine. Very old wines are stored there now, including three historic barrels dating from 1472, 1519, and 1525. The barrel from 1472 even still has 350 liters of wine from 1472 in it– the oldest in the world aged in a barrel. It’s only been served three times in five centuries:
- In 1576 to Zurich, when the Swiss proved that they could come quickly to help their friends in Strasbourg.
- in 1718 for the reconstruction of the main building ravaged by a fire two years prior.
- in November 1944 to General Philippe Leclerc de Hautecloque, liberator of the city of Strasbourg.
In 1994, the wine was tested by local oenologists who determined that even though the wine is over 500 years old, it’s still wine, and in fact, has “a very beautiful bright, very amber color, a powerful nose, very fine, of a very great complexity, aromas reminiscent of “Vanilla, honey, wax, camphor, fine spices, hazelnut and fruit liquor …” I wonder how much longer they’re going to age it and what made them decide to keep that particular wine for so long!
Bill and I took a taxi to visit the museum, because Bill thought maybe we’d be tasting some wine there. Alas, wine tastings are only done for special events. However, we did enjoy some beer after our visit to the cave. Here are some photos of the museum.
We really enjoyed our visit to see the historic wines. If we had driven to the museum, we probably would have picked up a few bottles of their current wines, too. Maybe if we go back to Strasbourg, we’ll stop in again. Incidentally, the cave is closed on Sundays and public holidays. If you visit, you can either read the signs, as we did, or get a headset, which will provide more information and stories about the history of the wine cave and its relation to the historic hospital complex. It doesn’t take long to see this attraction. We were there maybe a half hour, and that was because we were reading everything, taking pictures, and going slowly. It’s still pretty cool to visit there, though.
After our visit to the museum/cave, we decided to find ourselves some beer in town. We didn’t have to walk far before we reached our first destination, a bar called La Taverne des Serruriers/ La Schloss Brasserie. More on that in the next post.