Wine would taste different in space, wouldn’t it? I started pondering this question when my boss, chef Emeril Lagasse, joined the team at NASA to be the first celebrity chef to produce a gourmet meal for astronauts in space. This “to-go” food was delivered to the crew of the International Space Station via a recent space-shuttle mission. This event, along with the growing trend toward space tourism, has piqued my interest in learning about the effects of enjoying wine in space.
Right now, luxuries for space tourists are almost nonexistent. Space tourism is still in its infancy, and most of the “niceties” that these tourists enjoy in space are considered bare necessities here on earth. I am sure that this will change. As space tourism grows and accommodations get better, space tourists will want to enjoy other luxuries as well--and they will.
Taking wine into space won’t be easy. When chef Emeril created the meal for the astronauts, it was produced in a sterile NASA lab and then freeze-dried. Tainted food and beverages cannot be allowed in this closed environment, therefore, drinking wine amid the stars won’t be as simple as throwing a couple bottles of Pinot Noir in your duffle and hitting the launchpad. The wine would have to be tested for contamination and then repackaged for the flight.
Once in space, just about every aspect of enjoying wine would be different as well. When you drink wine, the flavors that you perceive are affected by how and where the wine strikes your palate. About 70 percent of the flavors you taste are olfactory sensations from the “nose” of the wine. In space, unless you create artificial gravity, you can’t drink the wine from traditional wineglasses, so you wouldn’t be able to “nose” the wine. The wine would obviously strike your palate differently, with the juice coating your mouth in a new way, therefore changing the overall flavor perception as well. Would it be possible to truly enjoy wine in space? I would love to find out.
Since I am a professional taster and in fairly good health, I believe that I would be the perfect candidate for this job. I would like to volunteer to be the first sommelier in space--to test not only flavor perception of wine, but flavor perception in other food and beverages as well. NASA might use this information to create methods and invent devices that would make all consumables taste better in space. It would make the long ride just a little bit nicer, and I’m up for the challenge. Houston, can you hear me?
Ted Duchesne — October 30, 2006 7:21pm ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — October 31, 2006 9:31am ET
Delmonico Stkhse @ Venetian — Las Vegas, Nevada — October 31, 2006 10:20am ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — October 31, 2006 2:20pm ET
Lucie Sweda — October 31, 2006 6:57pm ET
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