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Cosmic mouthful: Tasters savor fine wine that orbited Earth

Cosmic mouthful: Tasters savor fine wine that orbited Earth

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BORDEAUX, France — It tastes like rose petals. It smells like a campfire. It glistens with a burnt-orange hue. What is it? A 5,000-euro bottle of Petrus Pomerol wine that spent a year in space.

Researchers in Bordeaux are analyzing a dozen bottles of the precious liquid — along with 320 snippets of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines — that returned to Earth in January after a sojourn aboard the International Space Station.

They announced their preliminary impressions Wednesday — mainly, that weightlessness didn’t ruin the wine, and it seemed to energize the vines.

Organizers say it’s part of a longer-term effort to make plants on Earth more resilient to climate change and disease by exposing them to new stresses, and to better understand the aging process, fermentation and bubbles in wine.

At a one-of-a-kind tasting this month, 12 connoisseurs sampled one of the space-traveled wines, blindly tasting it alongside a bottle from the same vintage that had stayed in a cellar.

A special pressurized device delicately uncorked the bottles at the Institute for Wine and Vine Research in Bordeaux. The tasters solemnly sniffed, stared and eventually, sipped.

“I have tears in my eyes,” Nicolas Gaume, CEO and co-founder of the company that arranged the experiment, Space Cargo Unlimited, said.

Gaume said the experiment focused on the lack of gravity — which “creates tremendous stress on any living species” — on the wine and vines.

“We are only at the beginning,” he said, calling the preliminary results “encouraging.”

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