For most wine drinkers, a budget bottle from the grocery store is perfectly sufficient.
But for the adventurous wine connoisseur with a discerning palate — and a lot of money — there is a new frontier: space wine.
A bottle of "space-aged" Pétrus 2000, a luxury wine that recently returned from a 14-month spin on the International Space Station, can now be purchased via the auction house Christie's. It will be sold alongside a bottle of "terrestrial" wine from the same vintage for easy comparison.
According to The Associated Press, it is expected to fetch as much as $1 million.
"This bottle of Pétrus 2000 marks a momentous step in the pursuit of developing and gaining a greater understanding of the maturation of wine," said Tim Triptree, international director of Christie's wine and spirits department.
The bottle was one of a dozen launched into space in 2019 as part of Mission WISE — which stands for Vitis Vinum in Spatium Experimentia, roughly "Grape Wine in Space Experiment" — a set of experiments about how the aging of wine and grapes is affected by being in space, where gravity and radiation are much different than they are on earth.
After the bottles returned to Earth in January, scientists cracked one open and invited 12 connoisseurs to sample it in a blind taste test at the Institute for Wine and Vine Research in Bordeaux, France. Tasters were served samples of the space wine alongside an earthbound version of Pétrus 2000. (The less-well-traveled bottles of Bordeaux's Château Pétrus normally sell for about $6,500.)
Reviewers unanimously found the space wine to be not only still a "great wine," but with differences in its flavor and color as compared to its terrestrial sibling, with a deeper hue at its core which tasters described as "brick-like."
"The tannins were a little bit more silky, more evolved. The aromatic side was a little more floral," Jane Anson, a wine expert and critic, said at a news conference after the tasting in March. "There was a little bit more of marked evolution with the one that had been to space."
The bottle of space wine offered for sale comes in a "unique trunk" handcrafted by the Parisian Maison d'Arts Les Ateliers Victor, packaged with a decanter, glasses and a corkscrew made from a meteorite. Christie's says the sale will be conducted privately, so the self-indulgent oenophile who bags the bottles may never be publicly known.
The proceeds from the Christie's sale will fund future research by Space Cargo Unlimited, the French start-up behind the experiment and sale. The group specializes in agricultural and biological space research.
The company's funding model is partly based on sending luxury goods to space, then delivering them to wealthy sponsors who back the company, as Quartz reported ahead of the launch in 2019.