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After a Year in Space, Wine Returning to Bordeaux

The 12 bottles of vino will be studied—and sampled
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 13, 2021 6:25 PM CST

(Newser) – The International Space Station bid adieu Tuesday to 12 bottles of French Bordeaux wine and hundreds of snippets of grapevines that spent a year orbiting the world in the name of science. SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule undocked with the wine and vines—and thousands of pounds of other gear and research, including mice—and aimed for a splashdown Wednesday night in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa, the AP reports. The Atlantic had been targeted, but poor weather shifted the arrival to Florida's other side. SpaceX's supply ships previously parachuted into the Pacific. The carefully packed wine—each bottle nestled inside a steel cylinder to prevent breakage—remained corked aboard the orbiting lab. Space Cargo Unlimited, a Luxembourg startup behind the experiments, wanted the wine to age for an entire year up there.

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None of the bottles will be opened until the end of February, when the company will pop open a bottle or two for an out-of-this-world wine tasting in Bordeaux by some of France’s top connoisseurs and experts. Months of chemical testing will follow. Researchers are eager to see how space altered the sedimentation and bubbles. Agricultural science is the primary objective, stresses Nicolas Gaume, the company’s CEO, although he admits it will be fun to sample the wine. “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, and we think space has the key,” he said. With climate change, Gaume said agricultural products like grapes will need to adapt to harsher conditions. Through space experiments, Space Cargo Unlimited hopes to take what’s learned and turn that into more robust and resilient plants on Earth. There's another benefit: Gaume expects future explorers to the moon and Mars will want to enjoy some of Earth's pleasures.

(Read more wine stories.)

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