Researchers Analyze 170 Year Old Champagne From Shipwreck

Back in the summer of 2010, 168 bottles of champagne were discovered in a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea, about 50 meters deep and in well-preserved condition due to the protective nature of the cool and dark environment. Some of those bottles went on to be sold a year or so later, but three of them were sacrificed in the name of science, being studied in a "chemical and sensory analysis" to see what bottled champagne was like in the 1800s.

The analysis was performed at the University of Reims in Champagne-Ardenne in France, and it was lead by Professor Philippe Jeandet. The findings, which were published in the PNAS journal, point toward very high levels of sugar, eclipsing what you get in modern dessert wines. In addition, the champagne was found to have trace amounts of arsenic.

The study is said to have looked at different chemical analysis to contrast the bottles with each other and with modern champagne made by the same house Verve Cliquot. The results were that the two — old and modern — were very similar in many ways, but that there were some "notable" variations between the two.

Not surprisingly, the older bottles didn't have much CO2 remaining, likely due to escaping slowly over time through the bottle's cork. The sugar level was also surprising, comprising more than 14-percent of the contents. Lead and iron levels were said to be high.