Some wines will become sweeter, while others will be poisoned by the ashtray taste of the “smoke smell” of forest fires.
Some beers will soon taste less hoppy or bitter, and some beloved whiskeys and other spirits may skyrocket in price, all thanks to climate change.
The effects of global warming on wildlife and human health, such as the threat of expanding regions with uninhabitable “wet bulb” temperatures, have already been well publicized. And some may not live long enough to see the true impact.
But these lesser-known effects, as agriculture adapts to ongoing temperature changes, have already been happening right under consumers’ noses as they swirl their glasses or aerate their wine.
Some beers (left) will soon taste less hoppy or bitter, and some prized whiskeys and other spirits may skyrocket in price, thanks to climate change. But it’s not all doom and gloom: a team from the University of Oxford has found that global warming is at least improving the quality of wine in Bordeaux (right)
Vineyards, particularly in California, fear that the “polluting smoke” will ruin entire crops of their grapes. Industry labs were inundated with grape samples for testing after the 2020 ‘Glass’ wildfire in Napa Valley (above) left about 8 percent of smoked wine grapes to rot.
While the impact on vineyards, breweries and distilleries will vary, the entire industry fears what droughts and water shortages will do to alcohol production.
Vineyards, especially in California regions, beset by recurring deadly wildfires, the dreaded “smoke pollution” ruin entire crops of their grapes.
The ash taste can cast a foul pall over the delicate flavor profile of most wines, rendering entire seasons of grapes useless or unsaleable, even if the grapes were growing miles downwind.
“Smoke and ash carried by the wind can affect the microbiology of vineyards at a much greater distance,” according to industry analysts. Sia Partners.
For vineyards, particularly in regions of California beset by recurring wildfires, the dreaded “polluting smoke” ruins entire crops of their grapes. The Napa vineyard, owned by movie star Salma Hayek’s husband, was a property covered in smoke from the 2020 ‘Glass Fire’.
Wine industry laboratories were inundated with grape samples for testing, following the ‘Glass Fire’ wildfires that Napa Valley faced in 2020, for example, which left approximately 8 percent of wine grapes behind. smoked plants abandoned with losses.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for wineries: a team from the University of Oxford has found that global warming is at least improving the quality of wine in Bordeaux
But it’s not all doom and gloom for wineries: a team from the University of Oxford has found that global warming is at least improving the quality of wine in Bordeaux.
An analysis of the scores of 50-year-old wines from the celebrated French wine region revealed that recent years of warmer summers and wetter winters have resulted in better vintages.
And these conditions are expected to become more common thanks to climate change.
“In general, we are seeing a trend around the world that as warming increases, wines become stronger,” said Andrew Wood, lead author.
“The trend, whether driven by the preferences of wine critics or the general population, is that people generally prefer stronger wines that age longer and give richer, more intense flavors, greater sweetness and lower acidity.” Wood said.
Another distinctive trend of the last decade has been that regions considered “wine country” have shifted northward as temperatures rise, starting at the equator, forcing the relocation of entire vineyards.
Of all alcoholic beverages, wine will be the most sensitive to climate change, and the grapes used will already be carefully examined for acidity, sugar levels and chemical composition, ripeness, and dozens of microbiological and soil composition effects that contribute to what experts call ‘terro.”
But hops used in beer, sugar cane in rum and many other crops key to alcohol production will also feel the impact.
This year, researchers at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague made the alarming discovery that beer hop production would likely become less hoppy and therefore less bitter as rising temperatures altered the growing season.
The team collected data on beer hop yield and “alpha” content between 1971 and 2018 from 90 percent of European beer hop-producing regions in Germany, Czechia and Slovenia.
Hops, which give beer its unique cane flavor, contain compounds called “alpha acids” that contribute to its bitter aroma and overall quality.
His report, published in Nature This Tuesday, he discovered that, compared to before 1994, hops now begin to ripen 20 days earlier, changing the critical ripening period and reducing their alpha acid content.
The analysis also reveals that hop production has decreased by almost 0.22 tonnes per hectare per year, and alpha bitter content has decreased by approximately 0.6 percent.
By combining previous data with climate models, the researchers estimate that beer’s hop yield could be reduced by up to 18 percent and alpha acid content could be reduced by up to 31 percent by 2050.
Caribbean sugar cane crops, on which classic types of rum depend, could be devoured by rising sea levels and choked by heat-resistant weeds.
But the risks of climate change for some higher-proof spirits may be much more serious.
Caribbean sugar cane crops, on which many classic types of rum depend, could be devoured by rising oceans and choked by heat-resistant weeds.
Last month, a study led by French chemical engineers from the ‘Laboratoire de Génie Chimique’ of the University of Toulouse reported that ‘weeds like Rottboellia cochinchinensis, Plebeian Ipomea and Digitaria sanguinalis They are expected to increase under high temperature conditions.
Ironically, evaporation and overuse of freshwater will also affect sugarcane crops, the researchers noted, compounding the industry’s problems from shrinking farm sizes and rising sea levels.
More landlocked spirits also face their own challenges.
“Look at the big brands sourcing staple cereals,” said spirits industry journalist Brian Freedman. PBS News Hour‘Climate change is wreaking havoc on this.’
Freedman wrote a book on the subject, titled ‘Crushed: How a Changing Climate is Altering the Way We Drink,’ and found that the wild upheavals of climate uncertainty (from floods to droughts to new species of invasive pests) magnify the problems. for both. the farms and alcohol producers who depend on them.
“If there’s flooding on a staple grain farm in Saskatchewan, maybe the big brands can absorb that price a little bit,” Freedman said. “But when millions and millions of bottles are made, what effect does that have on the bottom line?”
“It’s still business,” he said.
The risk of more dramatic and intense storms, as Earth’s superheated atmosphere boils over, is difficult to quantify. For example, in June 2018, a whiskey and bourbon warehouse at 1792 Barton Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, was devastated by a freak tornado.
The drunken reporter also pointed out the difficult-to-quantify risk of more dramatic and intense storms as Earth’s superheated atmosphere boils over.
On June 22, 2018 in Bardstown, Kentucky, a whiskey and bourbon warehouse, Warehouse 30 at 1792 Barton Distillery, was devastated by a freak tornado.
“This whiskey was effectively taken down by this rogue tornado,” Freedman said.
The result of the increasing number of accidents of this type is high-priced, 5-figure novelty bottles.whiskeys that survived the tornado.’
But if there’s one thing the entire alcohol industry is focused on, it’s water scarcity and its role in making the problem worse.
Diageo PLC, whose brands include Guinness rum, Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Captain Morgan, said even its efforts on sustainable water use appear inefficient and leave the industry unprotected against the unexpected.
“You could be in the most efficient brewery or distillery in the world,” Alexander said. TIME magazine. “But it still won’t mitigate the risk if there is a drought.”