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Museum Finds Cases of 221-Year-Old Wine in Its Cellar

Cases of wine found in cellar are almost as old as the United States
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 10, 2017 6:17 PM CDT
Rare Find in Museum Restoration Dates Back to Revolutionary Era
A six-month restoration project at Liberty Hall Museum in Union, N.J., uncovered three cases of Madeira wine dating to 1796 and about 42 demijohns from the 1820s while restoring its wine cellar.   (David J. Del Grande)

A restoration project at a New Jersey museum unearthed cases of wine nearly as old as the United States. The Liberty Hall Museum in Union says it discovered almost three full cases of Madeira wine, a fortified wine, dating to 1796 while restoring its wine cellar. reports the museum also found 42 demijohns—large glass jugs sometimes used for holding spirits—dating to the 1820s. The museum says the monetary value of the wine cannot be made public, reports the AP. The original 13 colonies imported about 95% of the wine produced on the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, according to historical accounts.

Bill Schroh, Liberty Hall's director of operations, says Madeira was the best wine to ship during the 18th century because it almost never spoils—even centuries later if stored properly. Liberty Hall President John Kean says he sampled the wine. He compared it to a sweet sherry. The museum, originally constructed in 1760, was built as a country home for New York lawyer William Livingston. He served in the First and Second Continental Congresses, become New Jersey's first elected governor, and was a signatory to the Constitution. The Kean family took ownership of the estate in 1811 and has owned it since. (Read more wine stories.)

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