Wine aged at the bottom of a lake tastes like...

Technically Incorrect: A Portuguese winery decides to send crates of its red blend down nearly 100 feet into a lake. What emerges is surprising.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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Wine from the Lake. The science is unclear, but the wine is wonderful.

Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

There are strange people all over the world.

Some just have strange ideas. Others decide to act on such ideas and see what emerges.

I encountered one of the latter types last week.

I was driving in the Alentejo region of Portugal and encountered a sign that read: "Ervideira."

The building looked like a factory. The entrance was unprepossessing. I knew, though, that it was a winery and wineries are places often worth dropping into.

"I'd like to taste some wine, please" I said.

So they poured me vodka.

At least it looked like vodka. In fact, it was a white wine made from red grapes and called Invisivel. Invisible, to you. And to me.

The wine was lovely, but these people were clearly quite odd. In a good way, you understand.

Suddenly a man appeared at my side.

"Would you like to try some wine from the bottom of a lake?" he said.

His name was Duarte Leal da Costa. He co-owns the Ervideira winery with his five brothers. They are the fourth generation of his family to do so.

"Sure," I replied, wondering if I'd stumbled into some Portuguese reality show.

"You're going to think I'm lying," he said.

That's exactly what I was thinking. I knew that the occasional winery had experimented with aging wine in large areas of water -- the ocean, for example -- but I suspected it might be a gimmick.

"I'm going to put our 2014 Conde De Ervideira red blend that's been aged in the normal way in one glass," he said. "And I'm going to put the same wine that was placed in crates 30 meters [around 98 feet] down a lake for eight months in another. You won't think it's the same wine."

I didn't. It can't have been. The one aged in the usual way, in a cellar, was good, perhaps a little on the young and fruity side.

But the so-called Vinho De Agua version was very much ready to be drunk, as if it had spent several years waiting for me to turn up. Not only did it taste entirely different, but it tasted as if it wasn't remotely the same blend.

What was the science of this?

"In water, there is no air and no oxygen. This is all I can tell you," he said. "We didn't know what the results would be."

Experts differ as to whether the water pressure might affect the wine, or whether dragging it back up to the surface might somehow give the wine the effect of a diver suffering the bends.

Another possibility: They have no clue.

Some people like to think of wine making as a science. I know one California winemaker who believes this so passionately that she refuses to drink the wine. She believes only in her formulas.

I still thought this might all be a ruse. So my Portuguese host showed me the crates in which the Vinho Da Agua, which was launched on Saturday, had been submerged. They certainly looked as if they'd endured an interesting experience.

"Why did you do this?" I asked.

"The invisible wine might be a clue," he said. "We like to try things that are different."

"Could I have another taste?" I replied.


The crates that were submerged in the lake.

Chris Matyszczyk/CNET