Oldest drinkable wine

Want really old wine and really old beer? Buy scuba gear.

Last year, divers in Finland discovered more than 150 bottles of Champagne, including Veuve Clicquot, and bottles of ale from a ship sunk in Baltic Sea about 200 years ago.

Changing pressures caused one Champagne cork to dislodge when brought to the surface. What to do? Divers: duh, drink it.

They expected seawater. They got good Champagne.

Divers resealed the bottle and took it took wine expert Ella Grussner Cromwell-Morgan. Her report:

“Despite the fact that it was so amazingly old, there was a freshness to the wine. It wasn’t debilitated in any way. Rather, it had a clear acidity which reinforced the sweetness. Finally, a very clear taste of having been stored in oak casks.”

The wine lost some fizz, but apparently tastes much as it did back in the day. It is much sweeter, reflecting early 19th century styles. Most Champagne today has about 9 grams of sugar. Typical bottle then had 100 grams.

That Champagne and ale survived is no shock. According to experts, bottles undisturbed in cold and dark at the bottom of the sea last longer than those in finest dry-land cellar. Bidding starts soon on the remaining bottles.

And ale? One of those bottles also cracked. Golden, cloudy liquid foamed like new beer; divers said it tasted good, if a bit salty and acidic. Analysis hopes to reveal the original recipe. Scientists plan to brew ale again soon using yeast recovered from the ancient bottle.


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