Scientists say that 170-year old champagne found on a shipwreck at the bottom of the Baltic Sea actually tasted pretty good. The French bubbly is believed to be the oldest wine ever tasted, and although it was super-sweet, it also exhibited aromas of leather, tobacco and smoke.
French researchers are publishing their chemical analysis of the champagne today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, five years after 168 intact bottles were discovered by scuba divers off the Finnish coastline in 2010.
Philippe Jeandet, a biochemist at the University of Reims who is the lead author on the paper, didn't get to drink any, but found that even a tiny whiff of the champagne tickled his nose for several hours.
"My colleague put on my hand 100 microliters (.003 ounces) with a micro-syringe and it was fabulous, marvelous," Jeandet said via Skype. "The aroma was tobacco and it remained in my mouth for two or three hours. It was remarkable."
Jeandet said he was surprised by the amount of iron and copper elements in the wine. The iron likely came from nails in the wooden barrels used to age the champagne before bottling, and the copper likely from copper sulfate, which was used to kill fungus and mildew on grape vines. Today, most all champagnes are kept in stainless steel vats before being bottled. The team also found a small amount of gelatin, a protein used to stabilize and precipitate the wine, he said.