Those who want nothing but the best for their rare wines would be best served by keeping their prized vintages in a cellar, right? Not according to a group of French oenophiles, who set out to discover whether wines aged at sea really do age better. Their quest apparently spun from the fact that wine recovered from shipwrecks can sell for a pretty penny—and with good reason, they found. To carry out their experiment, they squirreled away two barrels of a 2009 Bordeaux, one in the cellar of a chateau, the other in the Atlantic, reports the Daily Mail.
After a six-month period, the two were tested, and the lab results showed that the sea-stored wine went through subtle changes due to osmosis: Some of the alcohol content was lost, while the sodium concentration rose, which apparently drew out the wine's tannins. "When we tasted it, it was much better than it should have been," reported an "expert taster," who noted that the "Romans used to add a little salt water to their wine." But the conditions weren't exactly the same as those experienced by shipwrecked bottles: The at-sea barrel was kept at the low-tide mark, and was exposed to short periods of air as much as 30 times over the six months. The winemaker behind the experiment plans to see how the wine ages over the next 10 years.