The World’s Oldest Champagne Opened

The World’s Oldest Champagne Opened

The sweetness to the Champagne prompted speculation it might have been headed for Russia. The boat was found in an old shipping lane and Finland is now considered more likely.

While the exact age isn’t yet known, marine archaeologist’s estimate the twin-masted schooner on which the bottles were found is from the second quarter of the 19th century. Scientists say that 170-year old champagne found on a shipwreck at the bottom of the Baltic Sea actually tasted pretty good. The French champagneis believed to be the oldest wine ever tasted, and although it was super-sweet, it also exhibited aromas of leather, tobacco and smoke.

French researchers are publishing their chemical analysis of the champagne five years after 168 intact bottles were discovered by scuba divers off the Finnish coastline in 2010.

Philippe Jeandet, a biochemist who is the lead author on the paper, didn’t get to drink any, but found that even a tiny whiff of the champagne tickled his nose for several hours.

Jeandet said he was surprised by the amount of iron and copper elements in the wine. The iron likely came from nails in the wooden barrels used to age the champagne before bottling, and the copper likely from copper sulphate, which was used to kill fungus and mildew on grape vines. Today, most all champagnes are kept in stainless steel vats before being bottled. The team also found a small amount of gelatine, a protein used to stabilize and precipitate the wine, he said.

The bottles were found about 165 feet deep in an old cargo ship that sank off the Aland Islands of Finland. The temperature at the bottom of the sea hovered just a few degrees above freezing, which helped keep the champagne well-preserved.

The corks did not deteriorate, even after 170 years, because there was liquid on both sides. Because they are built to withstand the pressure of a carbonation, champagne corks are also twice the size as the opening of the bottle, meaning they are denser than a standard wine cork. That also helped keep the champagne in good shape.