This experiment will be telling of whether or not space is a solution to the future of food.
This past May, Christie’s Asia presented a bottle of Petrus 2000 at its Spring Sale, the first bottle to ever be aged in space. The space wine had spent 14 months orbiting around planet Earth, ageing in a carefully monitored and controlled environment aboard SpaceX’s Dragon capsule. The test was the first of the six-part experiment designed by Space Cargo Unlimited which aims to find innovative solutions for the future of food and agriculture. The company is looking to understand how organic material reacts to changing environments, a pressing issue as we continuously face the problems of climate change.
Petrus is one of the earlier established vineyards in the Pomerol region. Back in the day, the Romans named the hill the vineyard now stands on Petrus, which signifies “rock”, after the soil which is composed of “buttons” of dark blue clay that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Unlike most Bordeaux blends, Petrus is 100% Merlot, the only grape variety produced at the Petrus Vineyard. If deemed not good enough that year, Petrus will sometimes skip vintages. The high-quality and low volume makes this red wine, which is considered one of Bordeauxs finest, highly sought-after.
So how did it compare to being aged on Earth? A blind tasting was conducted to see if there were any notable differences between the land wine, aged 21 years in the cellar, and the space wine, aged 20 years in the cellar and one year in outer space. The land wine’s nose offers scents of blackberries, liquorice and cherries and the palate offers silky tannins cut by pops of ripe red and black berries. But experts found that its celestial counterpart differed in taste, aroma and colour.
Christies’ states that “Some said the flavour of the space wine resembled rose petals, and that it smelled like cured leather or a campfire, and shone with a burnt-orange lustre.”
It seemed that ageing in space could be compared to ageing a couple more years in the cellar. If that wasn’t an indication enough, the experiment also included 320 vine canes that managed to grow faster despite limited water and light. While lab studies are still being conducted on both the wine and the vine canes, the overall consensus was that both wines were of excellent quality and that the space wine beat all odds by coming back undamaged and gives us hope that there may indeed be natural solutions that could help the future of food.