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Napa Valley winery experiments with aging wine in ocean

  • Bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon in protective steel cages, left, are ready to be loaded onto a boat in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. Mira Winery of St. Helena, California, submerged four cases of wine in Charleston Harbor on Wednesday to see what effect the ocean has on aging the wine. Similar experiments with ocean aging have been conducted in Europe. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

CHARLESTON, S.C. — An experiment in the age-old art of winemaking began on Wednesday as a St. Helena winery submerged four cases of cabernet sauvignon in Charleston Harbor to see how the ocean affects the aging of the wine.

Mira Winery placed the bottles of wine in yellow steel mesh cages and then submerged them offshore in an undisclosed location. In three months, the wine will be removed and subjected to chemical tests and tasting by experts to see what differences it has from wine aged on land. The winery could produce and sell underwater-aged wine in the future if the trial goes well.

While wineries in Europe have experimented in recent years with ocean aging of wine, the idea is novel in the United States, said Jim "Bear" Dyke Jr., the Charleston resident who owns the Napa Valley winery. At least a handful of European wineries have produced underwater-aged wine, some of which has been sold in the U.S.

Winemakers have long known wine recovered from sunken ships has a unique taste and the ocean is thought to have something to do with that.

Dyke and his colleagues expect the water pressure, temperature and gentle swaying from currents to produce unique effects. He would not specify the depth of the water in which the wine will be submerged.


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