Strasbourg Hospital Wines - Gastro Obscura
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Strasbourg Hospital Wines

You can still drink riesling and pinot noir from this medieval cellar.

The Strasbourg City Hospital in the Alsace region of Northeastern France houses an additional business below its main level. Strasbourg’s community founded this building in 1395, a time when patients could pay for healthcare by donating land. Some hospitals also planted vineyards on the acreage they received, and doctors used the wine for medical (and religious) reasons. As such, wine cellars were normal annexes of medieval healthcare centers. Few of these basements remain today, but the cave situated beneath Strasbourg Hospital has aged well and its barrels are still used for winemaking.

Today, established local winemakers mature their grape must in the 18th-century oak barrels housed in the cellar. Producers make a variety of Alsatian wines, including dry riesling, sweet muscat, and light-bodied pinot noir, in quantities that average 150,000 bottles per year. Both the store at the hospital wine cellar and the producers sell to the public, but while the hospital store stocks only recent vintages, individual producers often keep bottles of older wines on hand. If the possibility of sampling wines aged in a medieval cellar isn’t enticing already, it’s also for a good cause. According to the hospital, all proceeds go toward medical equipment purchases.

Need to Know

When it comes to the cellar’s most famous offering, you can look, but you can’t drink. A barrel, dated 1472, is considered to house the oldest barrel-aged wine in the world. It's been sampled on only three special occasions.

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