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Wine: Global Warming's Latest Casualty

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Move over polar bears. Yet another of mankind's most beloved gifts of nature is now reportedly a casualty of human-caused global warming.

(Photo: tribp via Flickr) According to Agence France Presse, the effects of global warming are wreaking havoc on wine-producing grapes as higher temperatures and widespread drought are drastically altering the once "ideal climactic conditions" of those Mediterranean hills.

"The consequences of global warming are already being felt. Harvests are already coming 10 days earlier than before in almost all wine-growing regions," said Bernard Seguin, the head of climate studies at France's INRA agricultural research institute, speaking at the Second International Congress on Wine and Climate Change on Friday.

"If the temperature rises two or three degrees (centigrade), we could manage to see Bordeaux remain as Bordeaux, Rioja as Rioja, Burgundy as Burgundy," he added. "But if it goes up five or six degrees, we must face up to huge problems, and the changes will be hard."

AFP reports:

Grapes are damaged if they ripen too quickly, due to higher temperatures and a lack of rain.

"When a grape matures more quickly, you get higher concentrations of sugar, lower acidity and a higher PH level," said Fernando Zamora of the oenology faculty at the University of Tarragona in Spain.

The result is coarser wine, with a higher alcohol level and lower acidity which can destroy the delicate flavour of good quality wines, he said.

Reportedly, French champagne producers are already buying up land in southern England.

"The French will have problems," added conference organizer Pancho Campos.

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