Jacques Cousteau and the amphora [children’s books]

We’ve talked about children and wine education before. And recently about divers finding old wine under the sea. So I was surprised to stumble on a reference in a book I was reading to my kids the other day, The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau, by Dan Yaccarino.

“When diving in the waters near France,” Yaccarino writes, “Cousteau and his crew found a sunken ship full of wine jars over 2,200 years old! They tasted the wine. Alas, it was bitter.”

My seven-year-old son thought it was cool to taste something outrageously old, even if it was “bitter.” (Apparently, Cousteau’s comment at the time was that it was “a poor vintage.”) Here’s the same 1952 discovery in another book, for grown-ups:

“[Cousteau] checked his depth gauge. Two hundred and fifty feet. … He tripped his reserve valve to give himself an extra five minutes. … And there it was. Looking like an object in a museum … an amphora lay half buried on the slope in front of him. With the last measure of his strength, Cousteau pulled the amphora free of the bottom.”

Funny we get the tasting notes in the kids’ book. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any video from on-board the Calypso. But I’m sure it was captured in the ABC series “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.”

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3 Responses to “Jacques Cousteau and the amphora [children’s books]”

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  2. In the late 70s I attended a couple of French wine tasting session conducted by Alexis Lichine in his NY home/flat overlooking Central Park.

    Alexis mentioned that Cousteau had been a very good friend of him and that he once gave him a Greek amphora filled with wine as a birthday gift.

    “Jacques and I are the only two persons in the entire world who can claim to have actually tasted wine made by the Greek,” he told us. “How did it taste?”, he was asked by someone in the tasting group. His response: “After a heavy downpour take a wine glass, go outside and try to collect some of the really, really muddy surface run-off…”

    BTW, this was one hell of a fascinating wine tasting weekend. Alexis Lichine was one of the greatest French wine authority.


  3. …one of the greatest French wine authorities.


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