Your vintage wine tastes better because of earlier harvests brought on by... climate change

Francesca Washtell
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The authors found a connection between earlier harvest and higher wine quality (Source: Getty)

Higher temperatures in France brought on by climate change are producing "exceptional vintages", according to research published in Nature Climate Change.

Climate change had "fundamentally altered the climatic drivers of early wine grape harvests in France" by accelerating the time it takes for wine grapes to mature, which in turn creates higher quality wine.

"Historically, high summer temperatures in Western Europe, which would hasten fruit maturation, required drought conditions to generate extreme heat," study authors Benjamin Cook and Dr Elizabeth Wolkovich found.

"Now, it's become so warm thanks to climate change, grape growers don't need drought to get these very warm temperatures," said Cook.

By examining records dating back 500 years in France and Switzerland the researchers found the relationship between drought and temperature in the wine-growing regions had weakened over time.

Before the 1980s, droughts were necessary for early harvest but was now more attributable to higher greenhouse gas emissions.

However, as the world inches closer to passing key climate change thresholds such as the two degrees Celsius temperature rise, the authors warn more extreme climate change could damage wine grape crops and in turn affect quality.

"The bad news is that if we keep warming the globe we will reach a tipping point," Dr Wolkovich said.

"The trend, in general, is that earlier harvests lead to higher-quality wine, but you can connect the dots here. We have several data points that tell us there is a threshold we will probably cross in the future where higher temperatures will not produce higher quality."

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