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Space-Aged Wine Returns to Earth

Credit: Unsplash

You can really taste the cosmic rays!

I’m no sommelier, so I don’t completely understand the process of aging fine wines. Something to do with fermentation in a smelly barrel in a dark cellar, I think. Borrrrrrring. I say it’s time we take winemaking into the 21st century! Forget oak caskets in some rich dude’s cellar, it’s time to age wine in the final frontier! Luckily, that’s exactly what they did about the International Space Station.

In November of 2019, Luxembourg-based startup company Space Cargo Unlimited signed a deal with SpaceX and the ISS to ship a case of wine up to the station and let it age for a little while. It wasn’t just any dollar store toilet wine, though; it was the good stuff, a case of genuine French Bordeaux.

“Our goal is to tackle the solution of how we’re going to have an agriculture tomorrow that is both organic and healthy and able to feed humanity,” explained Space Cargo Unlimited co-founder Nicolas Gaume, “And we think space was the key.”

A noble endeavor for sure, though Gaume also admitted that he thought the astronauts would appreciate a fine glass once in a while.

“Being French, it’s part of life to have some good food and good wine,” he explained.

12 bottles of Bordeaux were shipped to the ISS in super-strong steel cylinders. Yesterday, over a year and a half later, the wine finally made its return to Terra Firma, packed in coldbags and launched down from the ISS in a SpaceX Dragon capsule. Alongside the wine were several other experimental specimens, including two live mice. While there wasn’t any public coverage of the capsule’s landing, NASA and SpaceX have confirmed that the landing was successful, and that the contents were successfully retrieved.

The wine will remain sealed for about a month, followed by an official tasting by sommeliers in Bordeaux and a battery of chemical tests to determine how its composition changed, if at all.