Why are wineries in Napa Valley experimenting with underwater wine storage? What is it about underwater storage that has intrigued wine producers around the world? The history of shipwrecks and the wines discovered on these wrecks gives us a great indication of what happens to wine when it is submerged underwater.
The Titanic, which sank on April 15, 1912, was one of the most devastating shipwrecks of our time. What many aren’t aware of is the fact that the ship sank with thousands of bottles of wine, liquor, and beer still on board. In fact, 1,500 bottles of wine, 20,000 bottles of beer, and 850 bottles of liquor were lost in the wreckage.
Did You Know: The most popular cocktails of the time were served on the Titanic, including Manhattans, Tom Collins, and John Collins.
Considering the most popular wines at the time, the majority of the wines likely consisted of Champagne, Sauternes, Bordeaux, Port, Sherry, Burgundy, and Vermouth. What one would never have imagined is how these wines could last for decades underwater.
Not only have the wines from the Titanic wreck been auctioned off for hundreds of thousands of dollars, but so have other wines salvaged from other shipwrecks. But why are wines salvaged from shipwrecks so valuable?
The Underwater Conditions
Wines age well underwater because of the storage conditions the water creates. Ideally, for wines to age well, they need to be kept in a dark, cool environment.
Underwater offers theses needed conditions as well as keeping bottles in stable and consistent conditions for long periods of time.
Other Shipwreck Examples
The Föglö wreck, also known as the Champagne Schooner was a 19th Century shipwreck discovered near Finland. It was found by divers in 2010, with over 160 bottles of Champagne still inside . These wines were auctioned for over €25 000 each, which highlights the quality of these wines.
The RMS Republic shipwreck is another excellent example. In 1909 the White Star Ocean Liner hit the SS Florida. The wreck is often compared to the Titanic, however, not as many lives were lost. The similarities lie with the wines, where several Champagne and Bordeaux bottles were discovered.
These bottles, as well as those of the Titanic and Föglö, stayed intact because of the thickness of Champagne bottles and the underwater conditions. They were perfectly crafted to handle pressure, which is why they lasted for decades.
What has been abundantly clear in each of these shipwrecks is that the underwater environment creates perfect aging conditions. Not only does it prevent oxygen or light from reaching the wine, but it also causes stable, cold conditions.
In addition, the pressured conditions have proven to do exceptionally well for sparkling wines. These three shipwreck examples are only three of hundreds of examples. They have unknowingly created an innovative way to store and age wine, which could take preference in the future and lead the industry to exceptional matured wines.