It took three years of research and experimentation to develop Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar, the first champagne designed to be tasted in space. For this world premiere, Maison Mumm symbolically chose to fly over the vineyards of Reims to present its innovation during a zero-gravity flight.
Science Serving Champagne
Maison Mumm’s goal was to take champagne into space while maintaining its integrity – that is to say, respecting its aromas, the tasting ritual and the specifications of the AOC. The Maison was the first to take an interest in the scientific constraints that the absence of gravity could pose on a gaseous liquid. To explore the possibilities, Maison Mumm called upon Octave de Gaulle, founder of SPADE, a design agency specializing in creating objects for use in space, and assembled a team of experts (engineers, researchers, astronauts and oenologists) to work alongside him.
Driving this exceptional scientific adventure forward, Maison Mumm worked in close collaboration with Jean-Franois Clervoy (French ESA astronaut, veteran of three NASA space missions) and Grard Liger-Belair (professor at the University of Reims, world-renowned researcher specializing in the physio-chemistry of the effervescence of champagne). With their knowledge of the dynamics of fluids and capillary action, they were able to understand the terrestrial behaviors of Mumm Grand Cordon champagne.
They faced many challenges: without the effects of gravity, the main difficulties were expelling the liquid from the bottle, capturing it once it came out and finally, how to drink it. To help solve these questions, professor Liger-Belair made twenty years of research related to the creation of bubbles in champagne available to Maison Mumm. He also led a study to predict the behavior of champagne in zero gravity.
SPADE worked on a prototype for the bottle based on theories put forward by the two scientific experts on the team to create several models which were tested in realistic conditions during three parabolic flights between April 2017 and February 2018.
Thanks to Maison Mumm, the hypotheses were put to the test and facilitated the observation of a variety of phenomenon and reactions, which were analyzed with the help of Jean-Franois Clervoy.
A High-Tech Design
At this level of innovation, every element is essential, starting with materials which, for some, could impact the flavor, the expulsion of carbon dioxide or even the formation of bubbles in the wine.
SPADE selected the glass, the aeronautical-grade aluminum and the stainless steel (the same metal found in the assembly vats at Mumm Grand Cordon in Reims) for their ability to adhere to complex specifications. The double cavity of the glass bottle, the mechanized system contained within it, the ring mounted on the cork and the unique tapered-stem glasses were all carefully considered to reproduce the terrestrial tasting ritual as loyally as possible.
New Taste Sensations
It is in the extreme conditions of zero gravity that Mumm Grand Cordon takes on new, surprising taste characteristics and unexpected sensations in the mouth. Wine exits the bottle as a foam to be inhaled, rather than sipped. This emulsion then turns to liquid, which coats the palate and tongue as capillary action takes effect. “By releasing the power of Pinot Noir, the weightlessness concentrates and intensifies Mumm Grand Cordon’s signature style. The expression of fruit is more accomplished than it is on Earth,” explained Raimonds Tomsons, Best Sommelier in Europe 2017, who also participated in the first official zero-gravity tasting of Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar in Reims.
A Pioneering Spirit
Innovation and daring have been integral to Maison Mumm since its foundation. Exploring new territories like space was a big challenge but one that the Maison took on with passion. “Maison Mumm likes to push the boundaries and has been a leader in its field ever since its foundation. As such, Maison Mumm is a natural supporter of both the pioneers of yesterday and those of the future. In 1904, Maison Mumm was present on board with Commander Jean-Baptiste Charcot to celebrate the first successful French expedition to the Antarctic. Tomorrow, Maison Mumm will accompany passengers to space on this unique adventure,” said Pierre Brard, Global Marketing Director.
This project goes far beyond the bounds of the Maison. It not only allows the wine to be revealed differently but ensures that champagne is part of the future of space exploration with the advent of space tourism and the first commercial suborbital flights. Beyond champagne, Maison Mumm has made a considerable contribution of the behavior and the tasting of fizzy drinks in space, opening up new horizons.
Dare, win and celebrate
Pushing the boundaries of possibility, daring, taking on challenges and looking ahead are both what this innovation represents for Maison Mumm, and what has always driven it – just like Usain Bolt, the Maison’s C.E.O. (Chief Entertainment Officer) since 2016. Usain Bolt was of course present in Reims, alongside the Maison, for this momentous occasion. During the parabolic flight, he discovered the pleasures of champagne in zero gravity, before returning to Earth to celebrate, during a one of a kind party in the Mumm cellars.