Dating Wine Using Nuclear Signatures

August 27, 2018 · Wine,Fukushima,Nuclear Signature

Dating Wine Using Nuclear Signatures

In 2001, French pharmacologist Philippe Hubert discovered a new way to date wine. In the 1950s, countries like the U.S. and Russia conducted nuclear tests amidst the Cold War, dispersing an abundance of radioactive material into the atmosphere.

This material has left a significant amount of nuclear waste across the world, most notably Cesium-137, which has found its way into foods. Hubert realized that traces of Cesium-137 could date wine accurately without opening it, thus preventing wine fraud. Detecting wine with no Cesium would necessarily mean that was made after 1980, the year of the last nuclear test.

However, the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown released a new wave of radioactive residue into the atmosphere. Hubert and his colleagues conducted a special test to detect whether the 2011 disaster had any effect on Californian wine made between 2009 and 2012. The test involved opening and evaporating the wine and converting it into ash.Afterwards, the ash was scanned for Cesium-137, and Hubert discovered a noticeably different amount of the chemical in wines dated before and after the Fukushima disaster.

Nevertheless, this difference was only apparent after opening and ruining the wine, so it has no practical use for wine dating. Wines dated more recently will still appear to have no traces of Cesium-137, as they should.

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