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Wines Aged at the Bottom of the Sea

We could call it an emerging fashion, but the question that arises is: what happens to a bottle of wine placed under the sea to mature and even undergo fermentation?

All this may seem strange but it is all true, there are more and more producers all over the world participating with this method. There are European wine producers from Spain, Italy and Greece engaging in this practice and non-European producers from Chile to as far as Australia. These wine-producers make the decision to age their wines at the bottom of the sea in specially built cellars that are submerged under the sea.

How are the wines aged under water?

Keeping the bottles on the seabed, according to wine experts, offers better conditions for ageing red and white wines, and leads to very interesting results, while maintaining the organoleptic characteristics of the wine.

According to certain experts, there is still a lot of research to be done on this, even from a scientific point of view, but it is always very pleasant to savor wines that are developed in new and special and perhaps unconventional methods.

Submerged cellars differ in depth. At 15 – 20 meters deep they are used for wines such as Bordeaux, and up to 60 meters deep for sparkling Italian- made wines.

Through research it has been established the deeper you go, the more constant the temperature remains, dim light reigns and the currents exert a counter-pressure, which is indispensable for sparkling wine bottles. The wines get a more delicate and slightly more sparkling taste.

This method began about ten years ago, and is thrilling many producers and consumers.

What does Dr. Lee think about this method of producing wine?

When aging wines, it is a well-known fact that constant temperature and the absence of light are hugely positive attributes when considering potential cellar areas. Most recreational diving is limited to depths of 20m or 60ft because one can still get natural light at this depth so I am not convinced that having underwater cellars at 20m or less are entirely suitable. If they were deeper then both important factors would be met. The issue is, costs increase between 50 -70% using this aging method. That could be another issue for the consumer. Then, there is the environmental impact and other considerations of security, natural phenomena. For the consumer, the wineries are producing that “USP” the unique selling proposition, but ultimately the consumer will decide if it is worth the price.

Would I adopt this method in the waters of the Pacific Ocean?

Unlikely for several reasons. The potential impact on the environment, the enormous amounts of planning, regulation and permission to be able to undertake this exercise and the hugely increased bottle cost in a very competitive and sensitive consumer market right now.

Would using the depth of the lakes would give the same results?

Having trained and being certified as a NAUI diver, I did dive into lakes and they are definitely different to the open waters of the ocean and seas. Perhaps, if there were underwater caves in the lake this may prove to be more enticing. The darkness and stability of waters with the constant temperatures are most appealing in lakes. One needs to be careful of thermoclines though and also the size of the lake.

Written by Dr. Clinton Lee – Executive Director of APWASI