Why the usual varieties and tastes of wine may soon disappear

Global warming is merciless to world winemaking, says Artur Sarkisyan, head of the Russian Sommelier Union. One of the leading wine geneticists, the Portuguese Jose Vuiyamo, predicted a few years ago that by 2050 there would be no vineyards left in Europe. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the past eight years have been the hottest on record. The average global temperature in 2022 was 1.15 degrees above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900s). The drought is already affecting all the major wine-growing regions: Italy, France, Spain, the USA and Australia.

How does the taste of wine change?

In the heat, the grape berry, only formed, very quickly begins to gain moisture. And then high temperatures lead to a rapid “withering” of the grapes, which have not yet had time to move into phenolic maturity (when the berries become less bitter in taste and soften). To prevent the grapes from burning in the vineyard, they have to be harvested earlier. However, such grapes do not yet have the amount of sugar needed for fermentation. Wine from such a berry turns out to be low-alcohol, explains Sargsyan. If the grapes have not yet reached the condition, the wine can be very acidic, but without an aftertaste, or very bright in aromatics, but also without taste, or be bitter, says Daria Sologub, import director of the Fort wine trading company.

Rising temperatures make it possible to develop lighter mineral wines on the northern border of wine-producing regions and richer ones in the south, says Andrey Dalnov, head of the Rosselkhozbank Center for Industry Expertise. In the historical centers of world production – France, Italy, Spain – climate change leads to a change in the characteristics of grapes and a change in the taste of wine. In some cases, the climate forces generations of farms to start from scratch – to experiment with more resistant grape varieties or stop production altogether.

In a hot summer, Australian Shiraz can reach 17-18 and even 19% alcohol, says Sologub. Usually, alcohols must be added to achieve such speeds. But in Australia it is a product created by nature. As for the taste, with an increase in air temperature, freshness and fruitiness leave the wine, and jam tones, tones of undergrowth, tones of “raisins” come to replace them. In white wines, the taste changes from grassy to honey aromas, says Sologub.

Due to global warming, producers are changing winemaking practices. To achieve the taste that producers have been accustoming consumers to for years, winemakers are experimenting with different varieties, using not only classic, international varieties, but also interesting varieties from the New World. For example, in Bordeaux they began to use Bonard or Malbec.

Rising temperatures allow for lighter, more mineral wines in the north and richer, stronger wines in the south.

We’ll go north

As the climate warms, wine-producing regions are shifting north. So, wines from Austria, from Germany, which can already be considered classic, have become popular. Now the Czech Republic, Serbia, Switzerland are added to them. Interesting varieties are white Rieslings, Grüners, red Zweigelts: they are brighter, fruitier and in line with the trend of changing consumer tastes. After all, now the consumer wants lighter, low-grade wines, which are produced in more northern regions, says Sologub.

In Europe, climate change is gradually changing the characteristics of wine and its taste. Photo: Valery Matytsin/TASS

With each new generation, consumers are choosing softer, finer wines. And what they drank 10 years ago seems strange today, Artur Sargsyan agrees. For example, this was the case with New World wines: when wines from Chile, Argentina, and Australia began to be imported (and they are all quite powerful and structured), consumers liked it at first. Now tastes are changing. The latest trend is the fashion for petnates. This is a simple light sparkling, in fact, “bad”. Now the generation that grew up on beer is maturing and is looking for a similar alternative to it, Sargsyan explains.

To grow grapes in the north, hybrid varieties were created that are resistant to both cold and various fungi – these are PIWI varieties, says Daria Sologub. Organoleptically, they cannot repeat international varieties. Nevertheless, these are wines with which you will no longer surprise specialists. There is, for example, the Bianca variety, which is similar to Pinot Blanc, the Baron variety – crossed with Cabernet Sauvignon.

In Russia, experts expect the imminent opening of the wine region of Primorye, where winemaking is entirely based on hybrids. In general, due to global warming, our country, unlike the traditional wine-growing regions, has great prospects, Sargsyan is sure. At first, the Rostov region was considered the northernmost region for growing grapes, then vineyards appeared in the Volgograd region, and now there are vineyards in the Samara region. According to Jose Vuiyamo, by 2050, when there will be no vineyards left in Europe, we will be able to grow grapes even in the Moscow region. The volume of processing of grapes and other fruits for wine by 2026 may exceed 2 million tons – this is a two-fold increase compared to 2016, Dalnov predicts.


Climate change is leading to a decrease in the supply of wine on the world market. An analysis of the dynamics of production in recent years allows us to predict a decline of 1-2% per year in the next 10 years, says Dalnov. The forecast of the European Commission for the production of wine in the European Union also suggests a decline, but at a slower pace – by 0.1% per year. Climate change and planned reductions in pesticide use are cited as the main reasons.

On the other hand, over the next 10 years, the world’s population will continue to grow at an average rate of 1% per year and by 2033 will grow to 8.5 billion people. “The projected increase of 700 million means that more people will be added than currently live in the EU or Latin America,” says Dalnov.

At the same time, on average, the population will be richer than it is now. Real (inflation-adjusted) GDP per capita will grow twice as fast as the population, at 2% per year. The growth of the population, the increase in its solvency and the “westernization” (borrowing the experience of Western Europe or America) of consumption in Asian and African countries indicate a likely increase in demand for wine in the world.

As supply declines and demand rises, global wine prices should rise. And since the main production of grapes can be concentrated in Russia, our winemakers will be able to win, predicts Dalnov. Russia has already achieved significant success in winemaking – no country in the world has achieved such results in just 10 years, says Sargsyan. And, according to some experts, this is only the beginning of a long journey.

Source: Российская газета by rg.ru.

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