Champagne lovers may want to stock up as the overheating of the planet threatens to change how their favorite bubbly beverage tastes forever.
The risk of drought in the Champagne region of France, the only place where true “champagne” is made, is expected to grow dramatically in the coming decades if climate policies aren’t changed, CNBC reported.
That’s terrible news for the grapes needed to make champagne.
Much of Europe has spent most of the summer going through a near-record heat wave. Extreme heat can throw off the balance of acidity in grapes, which affects the taste. Like humans, grapes can get sunburned.
Matt Hodgson, founder of English wine retailer Grape Britannia, told CNBC, “[If the grapes] get exposed to too extreme UV rays, then they will get the equivalent of our sunburn and that will basically … damage the flavor.”
The shift in the climate of Champagne has already changed the harvest season, CNBC reported. Twenty years ago, the harvest took place at the end of September or the beginning of October. Now, grapes are harvested at the end of August or the beginning of September.
Why the threat to Champagne is important
The threat to the grapes of Champagne is just another example of how a warming climate negatively affects crops worldwide.
While the taste of champagne may seem insignificant compared to other consequences of the changing weather patterns, many people’s livelihoods depend on producing good champagne.
Wine judge and critic Susy Atkins told CNBC, “I have noticed a subtle change in my 30-odd years and … other people who’ve got more like 50 years of wine tasting experience have pointed to a definite shift in style towards the more rich.”
What’s being done about the threat to Champagne grapes?
Champagne makers have always followed rigid rules for making their products but are now forced to adapt.
While not all champagne producers are too fond of the idea, others are looking to move operations to a region in the UK with a climate similar to Champagne that is not currently as threatened by the planet’s warming.
The rules for making champagne also might be altered, but that may result in the champagne itself ultimately being altered.
“It might be something new and something nice,” Hodgson told CNBC, “but if you love champagne as champagne is now, then that won’t be what Champagne is producing if it changes the rules.”
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