170-year-old Champagne Provides Clues to Past Winemaking

Divers discovered bottles in a shipwreck off the Finnish Aland archipelago in the Baltic Sea in 2010. After tasting the bottles on site, the divers realized they were likely drinking century-old champagne. Soon after, 168 unlabeled bottles were retrieved and were identified as champagnes from the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin (VCP), Heidsieck, and Juglar (known as Jacquesson since 1832) champagne houses. A few of the recovered bottles had been lying horizontal in close-to-perfect slow aging conditions.

Discovery of these wines, likely the oldest ever tasted, unleashed a flood of questions. When were these wines produced? What winemaking processes were in use at the time? Where was the wine going when the shipwreck occurred?

Source: 170-year-old champagne provides clues to past winemaking

It does not sound delicious. It sounds more like “It’s sweet and fruity (Just like every grape wine ever) but with a burnt-like aftertaste”.  Maybe I’m not cut out for the mad-science career path?  Sure I am! I would just require a large team of minions unpaid interns to delegate tasks to!

It’s not the oldest wine ever tasted by any means, but could be the oldest (or close to the oldest) Champagne.  Champagne wasn’t heavily produced until the early 19th century, so there wouldn’t be all that many possible remaining bottles in circulation.  Early champagne was also notoriously unstable, and bottles often exploded from pressure, before mid-19th century improvements in glassmaking and corking.  Low production + high volatility means that its unlikely for there to be too many bottles lying around from before the 19th century.

Cream of Tartar: How Much Vitamin K?

If you were concerned, don’t be.  Potassium bitartrate (AKA cream of tartar) has no vitamin K.  2 – 100 grams, no vitamin K.

How is it made?   According to Wikipedia (defaced it myself):

Potassium bitartrate crystallizes in wine casks during the fermentation of grapejuice, and can precipitate out of wine in bottles.

In food, potassium bitartrate is used for:

  • Stabilizing egg whites, increasing their heat tolerance and volume
  • Stabilizing whipped cream, maintaining its texture and volume
  • Anti-caking and thickening
  • Preventing sugar syrups from crystallizing
  • Reducing discoloration of boiled vegetables

Additionally it is used as a component of:

  • Baking powder, as an acid ingredient to activate baking soda
  • Sodium-free salt substitutes, in combination with potassium chloride