Shipwreck Wine

Charleston Harbor, near the jetties

Charleston Harbor, near the jetties (Photo credit: hdes.copeland)

     The Mira Winery of St Helena, California is involved in an experiment were they are testing the effects of aging their wines by submerging them in the ocean.  The first phase was completed recently when the four cages that were sunk 60 feet deep into Charleston Harbor, South Carolina last February were recovered.  It has long been known that wine recovered from sunken ships displayed a unique flavor but the question has always been what caused the change.  Wines have been aged in the ocean before around Europe and the West Coast but Mira wants to do a scientific study to determine the effects of this process including what makes it different from land aging.  The next step will be to put wine that has no terrestrial aging at the bottom of Charleston Harbor for twice as long as the initial test.  I wish them the best and hope to someday get to taste a wine just like the Pirates of the Caribbean drank in their day.

To Age or Not to Age

     When I was growing up I can remember old Hollywood movies of  G.I’s in WWII finding wine cellars in french chateaus that were filled with cobwebs and dusty old wine bottles. It was from those images that most of us got the idea that any wine just got better with age. That idea just isn’t true. The truth is that wines are like people, they come into the world young and underdeveloped. The next phase is the prime years, that is when they have achieved the most character and depth of flavor. Finally they reach a stage that is past their prime and go down hill from there. Most wines are made to be consumed within 2 to 3 years from their production. The time frame from harvest to your glass has so many variables that it is mind-boggling. Every wine maker has a vision for each wine that they will make and this plan is fluid so that adjustments can be made as needed. I would say that any wine you buy today is ready to drink and enjoy because it wouldn’t have been released if it wasn’t. You can find vintage charts online that will tell you if a wine is ready to drink and the time horizon for its prime years. Now take that bottle  your Great Uncle Joe brought back from the war and clean it up and use it as a decoration.