Germans raise a glass to 'Château Seaweed'

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The Independent Online

Football fans indulging in a heavy drinking session at this year's World Cup might be surprised to find they feel healthy the following morning. At least, they might if they imbibe German scientists' latest creation - seaweed wine.

Laminaria, the brainchild of a team of oceanographers from Kiel, has taken eight years to perfect and is made from sugar kelp algae. Long regarded as something of a superfood, extracts of the brown seaweed harvested off the Baltic coast are full of the minerals, salts, vitamins and proteins widely used in "youth-giving" algae skin creams, shower gels and scrubs.

"It's extremely healthy for you and it's great for the environment as well," said Dr Inez Linke, head of Coastal Research and Management yesterday. As well as strengthening the immune system, the Kiel scientists say they believe the organic, cider-coloured wine will also have a positive effect on sufferers of neurodermatitis, a chronic and painful skin condition similar to eczema.

Algae wine, described by one sommelier as "fresh, lightly salty, intensively unique and with light marzipan notes", also comes in a three-year-aged "Reserve" variety said to taste similar to sherry. And despite being fermented in laboratories and "aged" in PVC barrels, "Château Seaweed", as it has been dubbed, is proving popular with some of Germany's top chefs.

"They're using it to invent new cocktails or to add that special algae kick to their signature dishes," Dr Linke said. But at around £15 for half a litre, algae wine will cost you rather more than a bottle of Liebfraumilch.