Bottles of wines recently brought back from the International Space Station were eventually opened and drank— a number of these —for research purposes.

Having drifted 273 miles above the surface of the Earth for a year, a dozen bottles of Petrus Pomerol, as well as 320 snippets of grape vines, were brought back down within an experiment to study the changes in plants within surroundings of gravity, light, and moisture.

Having the honor of uncorking and sharing a glass of wine at the Institute for Wine and Vine Research in Bordeaux is a wonderful thing, but the special space wine tasting was something so unique as to invoke tears one of the organizers and tasters.

The program isn’t only an exercise in excess, but a significant scientific experiment to understand how plants respond to stress.

Here on Earth we’re familiar with lots of the ways that plants protect themselves from bugs, heat, water, and more. But things such as zero gravity or radiation aren’t known in most crops, but must be for several reasons.

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If human beings cannot slow or reverse the warming of the planet, more radiation from the Sun will reach the surface of the Earth. If we expect to enjoy wine in distance, or amid a changing climate, wine manufacturers must be able to comprehend what’s deadly strain to the plants and what’s manageable stress.

The cosmic vintage

Announced on Wednesday, the experiment confirmed that the cold, weightless confines of the ISS do not ruin the wine, but they seem to make it to age quicker.

Likewise, the vine snippets survived the journey and grew faster, even under the restrictive conditions.

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12 connoisseurs tasted the bottles blinded alongside an identically aged vintage from a normal cellar. Delightfully, no two tasters described the same experience, with some of the notes reporting the smell of campfires, cured leather, and burnt orange.

The one that had remained on Earth, for me, was still a bit closer, a bit more tannic, somewhat younger. And the one that was up into space, the tannins had softened, the side of more floral aromatics came out, said Jane Anson, a wine specialist and author, according to AP.

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“The wine of Bordeaux is a wine that gets its singularity from its history but also from its innovations,” Christophe Chateau of the Bordeaux Wine-Makers’ Council, who welcomed the study, told AP right . “And we should never stop innovating. ”

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