Category Archive 'Shipwreck'

22 Apr 2015

Baltic Shipwreck Wine & Beer Tasting

, , ,


io9 reports that taste tests have recently been conducted on the roughly 200-year-old champagne and beer found by Finnish divers at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

Inside the sunken schooner, they found 168 bottles of champagne and an undisclosed amount of bottles of beer. The ship itself likely dates back to the second quarter of the 19th century, making its cargo almost certainly the oldest alcoholic drinks in existence. By comparison, the oldest wines in private hands are only thought to date back to the very end of the 1800s.

This entire story is a good reminder of a basic scientific truth – when in doubt, start drinking the 200-year-old booze. The divers first discovered the champagne was drinkable when changing pressures caused the cork to pop off one of the bottles, and a diver decided to take a swig. He expected to taste seawater that had seeped into the bottle over the last 200 years – which raises very legitimate questions about just why he decided to take a sip in the first place – but was shocked to discover the wine still tasted fine.

The divers all had some of the ancient wine, and then resealed the wine and brought it to wine expert, or sommelier, Ella Grussner Cromwell-Morgan. Here’s how she described it:

    “Despite the fact that it was so amazingly old, there was a freshness to the wine. It wasn’t debilitated in any way. Rather, it had a clear acidity which reinforced the sweetness. Finally, a very clear taste of having been stored in oak casks.”

Other descriptions that came out of a recent official tasting range from “lime blossoms, coffee, chanterelles” to ” yeast, honey and…a hint of manure.” Whatever the exact taste, the champagne was definitely significantly sweeter than what we’re familiar with today. While a modern bottle has about 9 grams of sugar, a typical bottle in the 1830s had 100 grams of sugar, and Russians were known to add an extra spoonful of sugar just to make sure it was sweet enough.

So how did the alcohol survive for so long under the sea? That’s actually the absolute best place to keep them, as champagne expert Richard Juhlin explains:

    “Bottles kept at the bottom of the sea are better kept than in the finest wine cellars.”

We can only hope this starts off a craze of storing wine inside shipwrecks. If you really care about your wine, I don’t see any alternative. And it really was incredibly well-preserved – other than a loss of fizziness from the slow loss of air bubbles over the nearly 200 years, the wine tasted exactly the same as it would have back in the 1800s.

And what about the beer? The divers, for their part, say they’re more interested in the beer than the champagne, as wreck discover Christian Ekstroem comments:

    “I don’t care so much about the champagne. Champagne we can only sell or drink up, but … we can use the beer to produce something unique and local. It’s historically meaningful.”

Ekstroem says the beer is just as phenomenally well-preserved as the wine. When one of the bottles cracked open on board their ship, the divers saw the liquid froth up just like a new beer would, indicating the yeast was somehow still alive.

01 Dec 2010

Probably Russian Shipwreck Found in Stockholm

, , ,

Jens Lindstrom/Swedish Maritime Museum
photo:Jens Lindstrom/Swedish Maritime Museum

The Daily Mail reports on an intriguing maritime mystery.

The remains of a ship dating from the 1600s [or earlier — DZ] have been discovered in the centre of Sweden’s capital.

The wrecked vessel, thought to be Russian, was stumbled upon by a labourer renovating a quay outside the Grand Hotel in Stockholm.

Archaeologists are particularly interested in a previous unknown technology used to build the boat.

The planks of the ship are not nailed down, but sewn together with rope. …

‘We were super-excited. It may sound a little strange when one finds little excavated pieces of parts of a ship, but I have never seen anything like it,’ he said.

With the exception of another ship found in 1896, all other shipwrecks uncovered in and around the Stockholm harbour have featured planks that were nailed together. …

‘We really know nothing about this technique other than that it was used in the east,’ Mr Hansson told The Local website.

Mr Hansson guesses that the ship is from east of the Baltic, possibly from Russia.

The ship’s position, well into the quay, reveals that it is from the 1600s or earlier.

The wreck was not necessarily linked to the yard, however, and archaeologists have been unable to say how long before 1700 it might have sunk.

Marine archaeologists will send samples to Denmark’s Copenhagen National Museum for analysis to be dated as precisely as possible, with results expected by January 2011.

08 May 2007

Wreck of Clipper Ship Appears at Ocean Beach

, ,

The tides have again exposed portions of an 1878 shipwreck of the three-masted freighter King Philip at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach (near the west end of Noriega Street). The wreck was last seen in 1980.

The SF Chronicle reports:

The sea, a thing of infinite mystery, was up to its mysterious ways Monday on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach.

At high noon, in the middle of low tide, two large pieces of a wrecked 19th century clipper ship decided to poke out above the sand and reveal their long-hidden selves to the world.

It was a little piece of maritime history and a great big puzzle. Just the thing for a beachcomber to ponder on a warm and sunny spring day, instead of going to work.

“I don’t know what happened here, but it’s interesting,” said lifeguard Sean Scallan, who got out of his dune buggy to check the wreckage, all the while keeping an eye on the nearby swimmers, that being what lifeguards do.

The visible parts of the shipwreck were nothing more than two 10-foot-long arrangements of lumber in the shape of a V, poking about a foot or so above the shoreline near the end of Noriega Street, and separated by about 200 feet of sand. One V was the bow of the ship and the other V was the stern.

That was it. Everything else was up to the imaginations of passers-by.

Complete story

James Delgado photograph

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted in the 'Shipwreck' Category.

Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark