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What Does a $6,000 Bottle of Wine Taste Like After a Year In Space

Published by Slashdot on Tue, 30 Mar 2021

PolygamousRanchKid shares a report from Motherboard: In November 2019, twelve bottles of Chateau Petrus 2000 -- a rare and expensive red wine from Bordeaux, France -- hitched a ride to the International Space Station aboard a Northrop Grumman spacecraft. It was followed several months later by 320 snippets of grapevine, or canes, of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. For a year, both viticultural products were exposed to the unique stress of the station's microgravity environment. On January 1st, the wine bottles and canes returned to earth aboard a SpaceX cargo vessel, and were hurried back to the Institute of Vine and Wine Science (ISVV) at the University of Bordeaux. Researchers have already begun analyzing the changes they underwent while in orbit, and during a press conference on Wednesday, revealed their preliminary findings. They had also, of course, tasted the wine. To the surprise of researchers, all 320 vine snippets survived the stay in space. Some have since been replanted, and the results have been astounding. "They are developing much, much faster than the normal canes -- the ones that are coming back from space," said Dr. Michel Lebert, SCU's Chief Science Officer. The wine, to the delight of the experiment's organizers, also appears to have undergone significant changes. "With the one that had been in space, I would say the differences that I found most were with heightened floral characteristics," said Jane Ansen, a wine writer with a diploma in wine-tasting from ISVV. "I would probably say that the Petrus 2000 that had been on the ISS was maybe one, two, even three years further evolved that you would expect compared to the one that had remained on earth,"; she said. "When the Earth environment is recreated in space, like on the ISS, the only parameter that changes from Earth is near-zero gravity," said Nicolas Gaume, CEO of Space Cargo Unlimited. "This exposes life on the ISS to immense stress." The researchers hypothesize that this stress, promoted by microgravity, expedited the natural aging process taking place in the wine bottles, and led the canes to develop a resiliency that is contributing to their rapid growth back on earth. If their theory is correct, the implications could be significant for a future in which climate change threatens to disrupt agricultural production. "If the vines find a way to evolve so that they are more naturally resistant to stress on Earth, then that opens very exciting possibilities for all of us," said Gaume.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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