China is looking to the skies to produce a world-beating wine. The country has sent samples of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir vines into outer space so they can develop strains that can survive country’s harsh climates.
The country’s new space lab, Tiangong-2, took off last week and reportedly stashed among its cargo was a selection of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir vines.
Unfavorable soil and freezing temperatures are just two of the challenges that China’s wine industry has to overcome to produce good wine. One bilingual website about the local wine industry of China, DecanterChina.com, reported that;
“Chinese scientists hope that growing wine in space will trigger mutations in the vines that may make them more suitable for the harsh climate in some of the China’s emerging vineyard regions.”
The site said researchers are hoping that the exposure to “space radiation” might trigger genetic changes in the vines that would help them “evolve new resistance to coldness, drought and viruses”.
When the samples return back to earth, they will undergo tests and be compared to other vines in order to find the most “suitable mutation”. China is now one of the world’s top wine producers and the country consumes more red wine than any other country and has more vineyards than France.
Besides the wine-related research that will be carried out in outer space, Beijing’s official news wire Xinhua also reported that the astronauts on Tiangong-2 would “carry out key experiments related to in-orbit equipment repairs, aerospace medicine, space physics and biology, such as quantum key distribution, atomic space clocks and solar storm research.”
It seems like the world’s number two economy is still looking for new ways to improve on yet another thriving industry. Depending on the success of the wine-related research, China’s wine industry will have the first ever wine from outer space.