First taste of Petrus 2000 from interstellar wine cellar!
How wine is stored – where, for how long and at what temperature – matters. It is commonly understood that wines should be laid down at a constant temperature of around 11˚C – 13˚C.
The bottle should rest horizontally so that the wine maintains contact with the cork to prevent it drying out, shrinking and allowing oxygen to seep in. Furthermore, the storage area should ideally be a darkened place away from hustle, bustle and movement. Wine, especially fine wine, prefers to mature in the quiet dimness of a cool cellar rather than under the fierce spotlight of a busy department store.
The effects of different ambiances on wine have been studied closely for years, but a recent experiment has taken things rather to the extreme. On 24 March, twelve eager wine tasters went where no sommelier has ever gone before and sampled snifters of Chateau Petrus 2000 which had enjoyed 14 months ‘cellaring’... in space!
This incredible experiment was part of a research project led by start-up Space Cargo Unlimited and also involved the wine institute of the University of Bordeaux’s the ISVV. Twelve bottles of Petrus 2000, which retails at the extra-terrestrial price of around £3,500 per bottle spent 14 months outside our atmosphere before being safely returned to planet earth via a SpaceX ‘Dragon’ cargo ship in January this year. It was then flown to Bordeaux for analysis.
On 24 March this ‘space Bordeaux’ was tasted against a ‘normal’ case of Petrus 2000 which had been cellared under usual conditions here on Earth. Full analysis still continues, but the initial samplers who were given the task of pitting their palates against the two wines reported some intriguing differences.
Well known wine expert Jane Anson commented in particular that the ‘space wine’ sample was perhaps two to three years more evolved. In her report, she observed that: “There were more floral aromatics [and] the tannins were a bit softer and more evolved.” As only one bottle was tasted, it is yet to be ascertained whether these findings were constant across the whole case ‘space wine’, yet it does appear that the 14 months spent in zero gravity did have a noticeable effect.
Organic matter is certainly put under increased stress when shot into a weightless environment. Perhaps this explains the strange differences between the ‘space wine’ and its earthly counterpart. Other variances were reported in relation to colour, but it should be noted that tasting notes can vary from taster to taster. It is still too early to determine any exact reliable data.
As well as the wine, 320 vine canes were also taken into space to see how them might adapt to their new environment. A full study and genome sequencing of both the wine and the vines will be underway in the coming months and could uncover further revelations.
Perhaps in years to come the Elon Musks among us will be able to lay their wine down in orbit, but, for my own part, I think I’ll stick to something a little less galactic!