In Saturday's Guardian Jon Ronson wrote about Virgin Galactic's plans to launch spaceflights later this year. This prompted thoughts of how alcohol will taste in space. Has NASA already considered this? Will the delicate nuances of our fine wines be destroyed? Will we be able to create a hydroponic vineyard out there? Merlot from Mars? In the 1970s, NASA spent years researching and developing food and food packaging for spaceflight. Charles Bourland took on the role of Space Sommelier and he quotes in his book The Astronaut's Cookbook "selecting a wine was an interesting project for the people in the food laboratory and we had no shortage of volunteers for the taste panel. After consulting with several professors at the University of California it was decided that sherry would work best...sherry is a very stable product". The ultimate winner of the space sherry test was Paul Masson California Rare Cream Sherry. However, the sherry never made it into space due to the strong odours that were emitted once the plastic pouch drinking straw was cut open. Fumes so strong that it made the astronauts feel nauseous.
Paul Masson had a better idea for their sherry (back then the term sherry was unregulated), they created an amazing heart shaped bottle as Paul Masson himself was born on Valentine's Day. Much more apt and a design that looks amazing to this day.
Virgin Galactic's space trip lasts 2 1/2 hours and costs $250,000. Perhaps there will be time for a glass of sherry before weightlessness kicks in, these days it will have to be the real McCoy, from Jerez of course.