Mission Accomplished: Bordeaux Wines Return From Space

by Isabelle Escande
Bordeaux wines in space

Bordeaux wines in space

A successful return to earth for the Bordeaux wines sent into space more than a year ago! Twelve bottles of Bordeaux wine and 320 vines have arrived safely after spending several months on the International Space Station (ISS). These wines were part of a scientific experiment initiated by the European start-up Space Cargo Unlimited, supported by NASA.

An Innovative Project

How do wines age in space? To find out, 12 bottles of Bordeaux wine were sent into space and then compared with samples that had remained on Earth in similar conditions. The company wanted to analyse the effect of weightlessness and space radiation on wine’s ageing process.

The name of the wine selected for this aerospace experiment was kept secret for a long time, but now we know that it was the most expensive of all Bordeaux wines, Pétrus. We also know a little about the tasting session that took place at the beginning of March to draw the first conclusions from the experiment.

According to the expert tasters present at this unique event, weightlessness allowed the Petrus to age more quickly.

A First Success

On 1st March 2021, a team of 12 people met to blind taste two bottles of Petrus 2000 (valued at more than 5,000 euros per bottle!), one from Earth and the other from outer space. The verdict was unanimous. “The stay in space had no detrimental impact on the quality of the wine,” according to Philippe Darriet, director of the oenology research unit at The University of Bordeaux’s Institute of Vine and Wine Science (ISVV). The majority of participants noted differences mainly in the colour of the Bordeaux wines, but not only that. According to Jane Anson, one of the tasters, the tannins of the wine which travelled in space, were “a little silkier, a little more evolved, the aromatic side became a little more floral.”

The results were the same for the vines that were part of the expedition. Nicolas Gaume, co-founder of Space Cargo Unlimited, points out that “they grow much faster, really much faster than their earthly twins. With many more leaves and the beginnings of fruit”.

Building the Agriculture of Tomorrow

For the time being, it’s still too early to draw any conclusions and further analysis is needed. Some of the plants have been sent for analysis for a detailed study of the consequences of their extraterrestrial journey on their composition. The other part was replanted and is now being observed with curiosity by scientists at the ISVV. The challenge is to find out whether these plants will become more disease-tolerant and resistant and whether they will then be able to adapt more easily to climate change (including drought and heat).

Preparing for the challenges of the future is the real motivation for this space adventure. “What we are concerned about is the Earth. What really motivates us is what concrete solutions can be found for the future of agriculture and viticulture on Earth”, explains Nicolas Gaume.

Another mission focusing on the wine fermentation process is already planned for next year. The saga continues and we can’t wait to see what happens next!

Unfortunately, Drinks&Co couldn’t get hold of one of these extraterrestrial bottles, but we can offer you a stellar range of wines. What drink would you send into space?

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Translated by Chelsea Cummings from Isabelle Escande’s original French article: https://www.drinksco.fr/blog/mission-accomplie-les-vins-de-bordeaux-reviennent-de-lespace

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