The First Space-Aged Wine Just Returned From Orbit. How’s It Taste?

A dozen bottles of Petrus 2000 spent over a year on the International Space Station

Philippe Darriet, Director of the Oenology Research Unit Institute of Vines, Science and Wine (ISVV) opens an "anonymised" bottle of Petrus before being blindly presented for comparaison tasting, at the University of Bordeaux Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin (Institute of Vine & Wine Science) in Villenave-d'Ornon, on the outskirts of Bordeaux, southwestern France, on March 1, 2021. - It has come back from afar after a trip in the extreme conditions of space: in Bordeaux, bottles of Petrus and vine shoots are analysed by researchers who are developing an experiment on micro-gravity, the accelerating potential of more agriculture "resilient" on earth.
A bottle of Petrus before being blindly presented for a tasting

We were excited recently about wine aged underwater. But now a vineyard has gone one step further — they’ve taken their vino into space and back.

As reported by Decanter, Château Petrus wines with a worth of about $6,5000 each spent 14 months orbiting the Earth onboard the International Space Station (ISS). A collaboration between a company called Space Cargo Unlimited and the University of Bordeaux’s wine institute, the ISVV, the 12 bottles of Petrus 2000 have now returned to Earth and undergone a tasting.

A bottle of Petrus returned from the ISS
A bottle of Petrus returned from the ISS
Space Cargo Unlimited

“The Earth wine was exactly how you would expect it to taste,” said Decanter’s  Jane Anson, who noted the space wine seemed to exhibit “more floral aromatics” and softer tannins … although given the limited sampling, everyday bottle variation wasn’t ruled out.

No chemical analysis has been completed yet, and taste differences among the initial imbibing team seem, so far, to be different but possibly consistent with each taster’s “sensitivity.” Notes Philippe Darriet, director of the ISVV’s Oenology Research Unit: “Differences were perceived concerning the color of the wines. Concerning aroma and taste components: the two wines [Earth and space] were described with a rich vocabulary attesting to remarkable olfactory and gustatory complexity; sensory dimensions of sweetness, harmony, and persistence were particularly noted.”

The goal of the initial mission was to stress-test plants in a different environment in an effort to combat climate change — 320 snippets of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines were also on the ISS — and to better understand the aging process, fermentation and bubbles in wine, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Interesting note: Those vine canes were replanted on Earth and the “buds and growth are observed much earlier than on canes that remained on Earth in similar conditions,” according to a press release by Space Cargo Unlimited.


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