Bordeaux Wine Sails to the ISS: Exploring Microgravity’s Effects on Alcoholic Beverage Ageing

Cheers! Cheers!

Twelve bottles of Bordeaux wine have been launched into space on November 2nd. The bottles were not meant for the crew to celebrate their holiday season (as alcohol consumption is prohibited in space). Instead. The bottles are part of a study conducted by the University of Bordeaux’s Institute of Vine and Wine Science, (ISVV), and a company named Space Cargo Unlimited. They were designed to determine if microgravity affects the wine aging process.

The Bordeaux team, as novel as it may sound, is not the first to study how alcohol ages in space. Two whisky producers in Scotland and Japan hold this distinction. In 2011, Ardbeg, a Scotch Whisky producer, partnered with Nanoracks in order to launch the world’s first whisky-aging experiment from orbit. The samples returned to Earth were markedly different from the control samples left on Earth. Ardbeg’s white paper states that the aftertaste is \”pungent, intense, and long with hints like wood, antiseptic lozenges, and rubbery smoke.\” Ardbeg wasn’t sure if the samples were affected by the aging process, or other extreme conditions.

In 2015, Japanese whisky manufacturer Suntory launched whisky samples that were to be aged aboard the ISS. After a year of orbit, one batch of samples was returned to Earth and analyzed. Another batch is still on the station. Suntory hasn’t released any data yet from these experiments.


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