February 21st, 2013
10:30 AM ET
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A mid-winter swim into 51 degrees Fahrenheit water doesn’t sound like a smart idea - even if it is in the Charleston Harbor.

But, 48 bottles of Mira Winery’s 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon are taking a three-month long dip to find out if aging wine underwater can affect the wine’s chemistry and taste.

Jim Dyke Jr., President of Mira Winery and a Charleston native, said he’d heard of Europeans who had experimented with underwater aging and storing, but no American, to his knowledge, had ever done it.

Since many of the factors in the warehouse aging of Mira’s wines (temperature, motion and darkness) can be achieved underwater, “we thought we should give it a try,” he said.

In order to pull off the experiment, Dyke’s team built custom permeable and environmentally conscious cages that were strong enough to hold the bottles and still allowed water to flow around them.

On Wednesday morning, divers took the cages and fastened them to the bottom of the ocean, where they will stay for the next three months.

The cages are equipped with devices that will collect data to let Dyke and his team know exactly where they are.

Dyke accepts that some people might see the underwater aging experiment as a gimmick, but he stands behind his product.

“I’ve always thought of marketing ploys as tools to convince someone to buy something that’s not a quality product,” he said. “We have a high quality product. We think we’re being innovative.”

At the end of May, divers will retrieve the cases and conduct chemical tests on the bottles, but Dyke said he’s also interested in taste. His expectations though, much like those of the sommeliers and wine enthusiasts he’s talked to, are measured.

“I don’t think [the wine] will be better or worse. It’s likely to just be different.”

Video courtesy of Charleston affiliate WCIV-TV

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Filed under: Sip • Think • Video • Wine

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soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. edwin

    I'll start by making it clear that I don't like wine, so I may very be biased.

    That said, my perception is that the wine culture cultivates snobs and elitists, this being further proof of that. I agree with empressturdy, this just seems like some gimmick to stroke the egos of whoever ends up drinking this (surely overpriced) stuff.

    February 25, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • lane

      Although I'll be the first to admit that wine snobs and elitists do exist, this is not an example of such. The fermentation and aging of wine is the result of various chemical processes that vary depending on soil type, geography, temperature, varietal, aging mechanism, and grape maturation–to name a few factors. This may result a failed experiment but that doesn't mean it is an example of any type of vino elitism.

      Try some good wine–there are plenty at 15$ a bottle–and avoid the big producers that make sure every bottle tastes exactly the same and you may see some of the beauty in wine and it's ability to evolve daily.

      March 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  2. Common Sense

    The romans aged amphora of wine in cold moutain water creek beds

    February 24, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • shibblywibblydingdongadoowop

      Actually, it was stored in warehouses. Archaeology -1, nonsense – 0.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
  3. empresstrudy

    Why not try it in space or dipping the bottles in the tears of unborn seals.

    February 23, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  4. bbb

    The more you effort you put into a product, the more you can inflate the effortlessness into the pricing. raw effort, $100, retail sell, $140. in addition to uniqeness & 1st innovation in its inustry ;) nice try

    February 22, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
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