The Great “Aquoir” Experiment

I had resisted commenting on the February 20 ABC News blog post by Lauren Torrisi for days. It reports on a winery that is aging some of its wine underwater in the Atlantic Ocean.

Day after day, more interesting (to me, anyway) topics would come up for Vinesse TODAY, so I would write about them instead.

But as the days went by, more and more of my wine friends were asking me what I thought about the whole thing. And since writing one blog is easier than answering three dozen emails… it’s time to blog!

Let me get one thing straight right from the get-go: I do not consider Wikipedia to be a definitive source on anything. As an editor, I have told writers that there is a three-word phrase I never want to see in their stories: “According to Wikipedia…”

Because of the way the website is structured, Wikipedia simply can’t be depended upon for 100 percent accuracy. For journalistic investigation, it can serve as a great starting point. But as an editor, I want to see information corroborated by recognized experts in their field. And that’s where Wikipedia can fall short.

All of that said, I’m now going to contradict myself—sort of. One other way in which Wikipedia can be helpful is in identifying the existence of things. The website has grown to such an extent that it now has entries on virtually anything you could think of.

So when I went to Wikipedia the other day and typed “aquoir”—a word that generates a squiggly red line under it (indicating a misspelling) when typed in a Microsoft Word document—into the “Search” box, I was curious to see what I would find. I was looking for a starting point in my investigation.

This was the search result from Wikipedia: “Did you mean aqui? There were no results matching the query.”

Hmm…Then what about the quote from Mira Winery President Jim Dyke that appeared in the ABC News blog? In explaining why he had put four cases of 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon into specially designed cages, and then had those cages lowered to the ocean’s floor off the coast of South Carolina, Dyke said, “What we think is that we might be scratching the surface of ‘aquoir.’”

He then provided his definition of the term that neither Wikipedia nor Word recognizes: “elements of ocean and weather that age the wine.”

After the wine has been underwater for three months, it will be chemically tested and then re-tasted by a panel of “wine enthusiasts and sommeliers” that had previously sampled the wine.

Unfortunately, the blog did not report on what Dyke expected to learn from the test. A few possibilities: Would it hasten the aging process of the wine? Would it slow that process? Would it alter the aromas and flavors in a significant way?

As a journalist, I could think of a dozen more questions. But the one that keeps popping into my head is: Who cares?

Seriously, what could we possibly learn from this experiment that would be worth its cost? According to the blog, the wine being used in the experiment is expected to sell for between $130 and $150 per bottle.

Perhaps a bottle with a price like that needs to involve some sort of gimmick in order to justify the high tariff. I’d be interested in knowing exactly how much per bottle that the “aquoir” aging method—if that, indeed, is what “aquoir” is—adds to the cost of the wine. It has to be more expensive than traditional cellar aging, especially since the wine had to be transported cross-country from Napa Valley to the South Carolina coast. (The blog explains that the Dyke family’s roots are in South Carolina, which is why they didn’t use that much closer ocean called the Pacific.)

As you can tell, I’m skeptical about the whole thing. But maybe I shouldn’t be. Twenty years ago, I never would have believed that screw caps would one day challenge traditional corks as the bottle seal of choice among winery owners. Perhaps in 20 more years, all wine will be aged in an ocean.

I’m betting plenty more will be written about this experiment, particularly after the wine has been brought back up and the tasting panel has assessed it. Three of the comments we may hear from those panel members:

  • “Tastes a little watered-down…”
  • “Flavors normally associated with East Coast wines…”
  • “Pairs well with fish…”
Posted in Editor's Journal
2 comments on “The Great “Aquoir” Experiment
  1. Hi there, after reading this amazing piece of writing i am as well delighted to share my experience here with friends.

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