One hundred and thirty oak trees were reputedly used in its construction but it has only rarely been used as a wine barrel. It presently enjoys more use as a tourist attraction and also as a dance floor since one was
constructed on top of the cask, writes Peter Smith.


When the theologian, Anton Praetorius visited Heidelberg, Germany, in 1595, he was fulsome in his praise of a wine cask. But this was no ordinary wine cask, it was the work of many years labour by cooper Michael Werner and the reason it took so long is quite simple really.

It was large enough to hold 127,000 litres of wine, so big in fact, that an extra room had to be built in the castle to accommodate it.

No wonder Praetorius said, “This work, is by God, worth seeing when the appropriate opportunity arises. I do not believe that there is another such vessel enriched by the great gift of the vine within the reaches of the globe.”
Strangely, we don’t know exactly why the Count Palatinate, Johann Kasimir, had it made. Possibly it could have been for use when great celebrations were taking place because it was housed in a room adjacent to one of the Royal Halls of the Castle.

Another suggestion is that it was used to store the tithe wines due to the Count. Sadly this great cask was destroyed during the Thirty Years War and the timber used as firewood.

In 1664, a new Elector, Karl Ludwig, ordered cellar master Johannes Meyer to make an even larger cask. And he did, not only did this one hold 195,000 litres, it even had a dance floor on top of it. When Karl Ludwig’s daughter was to marry a member of the French Court, a delegation came from France to discuss the wedding arrangements. In their honour, Karl Ludwig held a banquet, not in a formal dining room, but on the top of the cask itself.

Continue reading in this week’s issue