Shipwrecked bubbly gives chemists a taste of the past
Champagne preserved at the bottom of the Baltic Sea for 170 years has given chemists a glimpse of past winemaking methods.
In 2010, researchers collected 168 remarkably well-preserved bottles of the bubbly booty from a shipwreck. Possibly the most striking feature of the champagne is its sweetness, measuring more than 140 grams per liter of sugar (champagne nowadays typically has sugar in the range of zero to 50 grams per liter). The cloying sweetness comes from grape syrup, rather than grape juice, used when making the champagne, chemists report April 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
At first, wine-tasting experts described the spirit in terms such as “animal notes,” “wet hair,” and “cheesy.” But after a little time to breathe, the champagne showed “grilled”, “spicy” and “smoky” notes.