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Heidi Ikonen, visitaland.com

What Does 170-Year-Old Champagne Taste Like?

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Heidi Ikonen, visitaland.com

In 2010, divers found a sizable amount of alcohol—including 168 bottles of 170-year-old champagne—tucked away in a shipwreck on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Two milliliters made it to the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne in France, where biochemist Philippe Jeandet and his colleagues analyzed it and reported their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Markings on the bottles dated the booze, but also told investigators where it came from. The remarkably old drink originated from three champagne houses: Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Heidsieck and Juglar. The former two still operate today.

Jeandet and his team found important clues in the champagne’s ingredients. According to Nature.com, the shipwreck’s location—just off the Finnish Åland archipelago—might suggest that the cargo was headed to Russia, but the bottles contained 300 grams of sugar per liter, half of what Russians were normally known to drink. Instead, it is theorized that the loot was going to Germany, where the civilians enjoyed a more modestly sweet drink. Regardless, this would be much sweeter than today’s champagne, which generally only has about 10 grams of sugar per liter.

The bottles also had higher concentrations of iron and copper than contemporary champagne, but a lower percentage of alcohol. Presence of wood tannins suggested that the bubbly was fermented in wooden barrels. The team also found low levels of acetic acid, which meant it had not spoiled.

In 2011, two of these bottles were auctioned off, one for a staggering €30,000 (then around $44,000). The money was given to fund marine archaeology scholarships. Eleven more were sold the following year, with the rest being stored in Åland.

So what did this ancient booze taste like? The paper explains:

At first, the Baltic samples were described using terms such as ‘animal notes,’ ‘wet hair,’ ‘reduction,’ and sometimes ‘cheesy.’ ‘Animal notes’ are unequivocally related to the presence of volatile phenols ... ‘wet hair’ descriptors were to be expected for a wine that had spent such a long time sheltered from any oxygen source, and they were justified by the presence of light sulfurous compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, methanethiol, and dimethyldisulfide ... Finally, the term ‘cheesy’ is related to butanoic and octanoic acids.

Fortunately, when given time to breathe, the champagne’s taste improved. Tasters used words like “grilled,” “spicy,” “smoky,” and “leathery” to describe the aromas.

Thanks to dark and cold conditions, the ocean served as an underwater wine cellar and kept the alcohol in excellent condition. “The identification of very specific flavor and aroma compounds points to a very complex product, like modern champagne, albeit having been altered somewhat,” Patrick McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, said. “Considering that these champagnes had been ‘aged underwater’ for 170 years, they were amazingly well preserved.”

In an effort to test out how champagne age underwater, 350 bottles of a newer vintage have been placed in the water. Every few years, tasters will unearth a bottle and compare it against an exact replica stored above ground to see how different conditions can affect the taste.

[h/t: Nature.com, Gizmodo.com]

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New Pop Chart Lab Poster Is a Boozy Blueprint For Making Classic Cocktails
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Pop Chart Lab

Pop Chart Lab's posters combine design with data, and their latest offering—a full breakdown of the ingredients in 60 classic cocktails—is no exception. From the exact ratio of gin and tonic that should go into a G & T (2 ounces and 4 ounces, respectively) to the garnishes you'll need to make a proper Tom Collins (a maraschino cherry and a lemon twist), the 3-foot-by-2-foot "Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" artwork teaches mixology basics you'd typically learn in bartending school, sans tuition fee.

In addition to mainstays like the Negroni and the Whiskey Sour, the poster also includes relatively obscure drinks (ever heard of the Golden Dawn, or the Journalist?), which you can attempt after drinking your way through your favorite concoctions. Before you know it, you'll be explaining to your friends the intricacies of why you should stir martinis instead of shaking them (sorry, James Bond), or the difference between a highball and a Collins glass. Bottoms up!

"Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" costs $37, and is currently available for pre-order. Shipping begins on Friday, October 20, 2017. (To see the poster's details up close, visit Pop Chart Lab's website and click on the diagram.)

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Attention Beer Lovers: A London Brewery Is Hiring a Professional Taste-Tester
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Beer lovers aren’t given many chances to discuss their passion for imbibing at job interviews. But a new open position at London's Meantime Brewing Company lists that expertise as one of the top qualifications. As Fortune reports, the brewery is seeking a professional beer taster to help improve its products.

The brewery’s part-time employee will “join the panel brewers as they taste, discuss, and pass opinion on a range of different beers,” according to the job listing on LinkedIn. On top of steady access to free booze three hours a week, the taster will receive a competitive salary “with beer benefits.” As the description reads: “Yes, this could just be the best job in the world.”

Meantime isn’t just considering any casual beer drinker for the role. Their ideal candidate will have a precise palate that can distinguish “chocolate malt from dark malt” and “Fuggles from Cascade hops.” They will also have an understanding of global consumer markets, a functioning knowledge of English, and an extensive beer vocabulary. The brewery is located in the London borough of Greenwich, so applicants who aren’t local should be willing to relocate.

Founded in 1999, the Meantime Brewing Company made its name on the beer scene with signature beverages like their London Lager, London Pale Ale, and Yakima Red. If you’re interested in joining the team, post 30 words on your LinkedIn profile explaining why you deserve the gig, along with any photos or videos that may help your case, with the hashtag #pickmemeantime. The company will narrow down the pool to three candidates for an in-person beer tasting before deciding their top pick. Meanwhile, you can prepare for the job by brushing up on your beer facts.

[h/t Fortune]

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