Wine that went to space for sale with $1 million price tag

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A bottle of Petrus red wine that spent a year orbiting the world in the International Space Station is pictured in Paris Monday, May 3, 2021. The bottle of French wine is up for a private sale at Christies, with a stratospheric price tag in the region of euro 1 million. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

LONDON – The wine is out of this world. The price is appropriately stratospheric.

Christie’s said Tuesday it is selling a bottle of French wine that spent more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station. The auction house thinks a wine connoisseur might pay as much as $1 million to own it.

The Pétrus 2000 is one of 12 bottles sent into space in November 2019 by researchers exploring the potential for extraterrestrial agriculture. It returned 14 months later subtly altered, according to wine experts who sampled it at a tasting in France.

Tim Tiptree, international director of Christie’s wine and spirits department, said the space-aged wine was “matured in a unique environment” of near zero-gravity aboard the space station.

The trip turned a $10,000-a-bottle wine known for its complexity, silky, ripe tannins and flavors of black cherry, cigar box and leather into a scientific novelty — and still a fine bottle of wine, Tiptree said.

“It’s just a very harmonious wine that has the ability to age superbly, which is why it was chosen for this experiment,” he said. “It’s very encouraging that it was delicious on return to Earth.”

Private space startup Space Cargo Unlimited sent the wine into orbit in November 2019 as part of an effort to make plants on Earth more resilient to climate change and disease by exposing them to new stresses. Researchers also want to better understand the aging process, fermentation and bubbles in wine.

At a taste test in March at the Institute for Wine and Vine Research in Bordeaux, France, a dozen wine connoisseurs compared one of the space-traveled wines to a bottle from the same vintage that had stayed in a cellar.