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Underwater Aging

by Tom McFadden

We here at "" like to interpret our mission quite broadly. We're interested in just about any intersection between science and wine, not just the methodology behind the growing and fermenting of grapes.

An article in the New York Times provides fodder for our expansive approach. Reporter Alan Tardi tells the story of Piero Lugano, Italian wine-maker who ages his bottles under the sea.
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The article points out that...

1. Underwater storage has some upsides for wine aging: perfect temperature, no light, a lack of air, constant pressure, and gentle rocking that keeps yeast particles circulating. To quote Sebastian, from The Little Mermaid, "Life it is better down where it's wetter." And if that song wasn't already stuck in your head, it is now.

2. The project required approval from ocean scientists at the University of Genoa. Originally the scientists were concerned about the fragile ecosystem, but realized that the project would ultimately demonstrate their "philosophy of a positive synergy between man and nature." This quote hints at a key debate within environmentalism - whether "the natural world" should be held separate in (increasingly smaller) reserves, or whether humans should figure out a way to sustainably live and operate alongside nature.

3. Since the vineyards are conditioned by their proxmity to the sea, wines from the region have a "lean, crisply acidic, minerally, almost salty" taste. This represents the concept of terroir, from the French "terre" meaning land, denoting the way in which soil, climate, and other physical qualities affect a wine's taste.

From soil to serotonin, the world of wine constantly crosses science.
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