150-Year-Old Civil War Shipwreck Wine Finally Tasted

Wine experts said the 150-year-old vintage tasted like crab water
Wikimedia/Sarah Stierch

Sommeliers formally assessed a bottle of gray sludge that spent 150 years on the floor of the ocean.

A 151-year-old bottle of wine fished out of the remains of a shipwreck was finally opened and tasted this weekend by a panel of experts and oenophiles at the Charleston Wine + Food festival. Considering their tasting notes included words like “crab water” and “gasoline,” it does not sound like the flavor was much appreciated.

According to The Independent, the bottle was discovered by divers exploring the wreck of a Civil War blockade runner that sank off the coast of Bermuda in 1864. Before the event, a wine chemist from the University of Bordeaux analyzed a sample and said it was 37 percent alcohol and “smelled like camphor, stagnant water, hydrocarbons, turpentine and sulphur.”

In spite of that, several sommeliers and about 50 ticket-buying oenophiles gamely lined up to taste the wine at the festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

“I’ve had shipwreck wines before,” said master sommelier Paul Roberts. “They can be great.”


This one, however was not. The liquid in the bottle, which at one point could have been a Spanish fortified wine, liquor, or medicine, had now turned to gray sludge that smelled and tasted like, “crab water, gasoline, salt water, vinegar, with hints of citrus and alcohol.”