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Surprising Science

It’s 2050. Do You Know Where Your Wine Comes From?

Experts say that climate change is affecting the wine industry both in terms of budding grape growing locations — like Denmark — and the quality of wines produced in established locations.

What’s the Latest Development?

With the predicted 1-2 degree rise in global temperatures and a corresponding increase in extreme weather events, climatologists are working with experts in the wine industry to figure out what will happen in the next few decades and what kinds of adjustments will be required. Unsurprisingly, areas that were once too cold to grow and ripen certain varieties of grapes are already seeing better luck, says researcher Fernando Zamora: “[I]n Germany they are making fine red wine where it used to be very difficult. And in Denmark, now they’ve started making wine.”

What’s the Big Idea?

In established grape-growing regions, warming temperatures mean that the taste profile for certain wines is changing as the balance of sugar and acidity is affected. For some growers, such as those in the Beaujolais province of central France, the change is an improvement on a product that sometimes required additional sugar. For others, such as those in southern France’s Languedoc province, the wines are becoming more alcoholic; in this case, growers are compensating by planting at higher altitudes. Ultimately, says one climate change expert, the customer will decide what happens to the industry: “If [they] accept the changes, it’s not a problem. If they don’t, it is.”

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