170 year old champagne tastes SPICY, SMOKY, LEATHERY, says scientists

In an attempt to learn winemaking methods used hundreds of years back, scientists are analyzing champagne bottles retrieved from a 170 year old shipwreck.

The tests carried out on those bottles revealed that the champagne had very high quantity of sugar, much higher than what we find in the modern day wine varieties. In addition, traces of arsenic have also been found in those old champagne bottles.

As many as 168 bottles of champagne were found 50 m below the Baltic Sea during an expedition in July 2010. A large share of those bottles was found to be exceptionally well-preserve; experts say that it was possible due to the stable, dark and cold underwater conditions.

Some of the bottles retrieved during the expedition were sold at a 2011 auction; due to the piece of history associated with them and their old age, each of those bottles fetched tens of thousands of Euros.


Some bottles were sent for being analyzed in the laboratory. At the lab, those liquids underwent chemical and sensory analysis. The tests were conducted under the supervision of Professor Philippe Jeandet, a representative of the University of Reims.

The team of researchers under Prof Jeandet used a range of chemical analysis techniques for comparing the make-up of champagne collected from three bottles salvaged from the shipwreck with that of recently made champagne. The champagne of both eras belonged to the same champagne house Veuve Cliquot. Wine experts of Veuve Cliquot were also part of the research team.


Prof Jeandet informed that during the analysis he got to taste just 0.1 ml of the old wine sample as the rest was divided between other members of the team. He added that because of the excessively small quantity of the wine, it was not possible for him to smell the liquid, but he found its taste fabulous.

According to Jeandet, two flavors were extremely prominent in the sample; they are: the flavors of leather and tobacco. Those tastes remained with him for two to three hours.

The research team found that although there were some significant differences in the compositions of the wine of that era modern-day wine, their basic make-ups were surprisingly similar.