Wine from Civil War-era shipwreck to be uncorked in South Carolina

Fri Mar 6, 2015 2:59pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - An intact bottle of wine recovered four years ago from the wreck of a Civil War blockade runner that sank off the coast of Bermuda in 1864 is going to be uncorked and sipped on Friday during a food festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

How the wine tastes, and the story of its origin, will be revealed at a Charleston Wine + Food event titled "From Deep Below: A Wine Event 150 Years in the Making."

About 50 people bought tickets to hear firsthand what is inside one of the bottles and will watch as a panel of wine experts taste it Friday evening, organizers said.

"It's a surprise," Bermuda Tourism Authority spokesman Campbell Levy said. "We compare it to a baby. You don't know whether it's going to be a hideous baby or a beautiful baby."

The wine is one of five sealed bottles recovered by marine archaeologists from the Mary-Celestia, an iron-hulled sidewheel steamship that sank under mysterious circumstances during the U.S. Civil War.

The boat was leaving Bermuda with supplies for the Confederate states when it struck a reef and sank in six minutes, said Philippe Rouja, a cultural anthropologist and custodian of historic shipwrecks for the Bermudan government.

Whether the sinking was deliberate or accidental has been a source of debate.

Rouja and his brother, Jean-Pierre Rouja, were diving on the shipwreck in 2011 after winter storms swept over the site when they found a bottle of wine inside a secret boatswain's locker in the bow.   Continued...

Joe Lapore, from the Waitt Institute, holds a bottle recovered from the Civil War blockade runner ship Mary-Celestia, which sank off Bermuda in 1864, with diver Stuart Joblin, in this handout photo provided by LookBermuda/Chris Burville and taken on June 19, 2011.   REUTERS/LookBermuda/Chris Burville/Handout via Reuters