What do you associate with wine? Perhaps Italy? Warm summer nights, exquisite cuisine, good company, and an excellent glass of red wine. You might think that Italy is the country where the most wine is drunk. This isn't that far away from the actual biggest consumer: Vatican City. Nowhere else in the world is as much wine consumed per capita as in the Vatican. In statistical terms, each inhabitant drinks 74 liters per year. In Germany, the figure is 21 liters. This may be due to the fact that almost exclusively older men live in Vatican City and the wine is essential for the holy Masses. Perhaps it is also due to the fact that wine is sold tax-free in the supermarkets of the ministate. It's crazy, isn't it?
When it comes to wine, people are generally spoilt for choice - both as consumers and caterers. But how do we find the right wine without having to drink our way through every wine cellar on the planet? Help comes in the form of wine exhibitions such as VINEXPO, Vinitaly, and ProWein, one of the best-known wine exhibitions in Germany. It has been held annually in Düsseldorf for 25 years and is the country's biggest industry gathering for those with an interest in wine growing, production, catering, and retail. Exhibitors come from places such as Austria, Italy, California, and North Macedonia. This year, however, it has fallen victim to the coronavirus, just like many other exhibitions. Tasting the wine on the winegrower's estate is the only option left.
Incidentally, Germany is Europe's third-largest wine exporter and the world's tenth-largest wine producer. Viticulture is highly dependent on the weather; the grapes feel most comfortable at warm temperatures up to 25 degrees Celsius. Yet winegrowers all over the world are now having to contend with a devastating problem: climate change. It is well underway and threatening many traditional wine-growing regions in the world.
Climate change is bringing many changes for winegrowers, including rising temperatures, a disproportionately high level of rainfall, storms, and pests. Longer vegetation periods tend to result in the grape harvest shifting toward the spring. Since it is getting ever warmer in the summer, the grapevines have to contend with long dry spells and extreme heat periods. In the winter, meanwhile, it may be cold, but it is mostly rainy. Winegrowers are having to introduce costly protective measures all year round to protect the wine from the heat as well as the rain and cold.
Heavy rain frequently causes the grapevines to be afflicted by fungi and mildew and the prolonged mild temperatures of recent years mean that there is no longer any German ice wine. This is grown in some regions in Canada, for example. It is a very sweet wine, harvested in its frozen state and characterized by an unusual taste due to the exceptional sweetness of the grapes.
According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the effects of climate change are already being felt in at least half of all wine-growing regions around the world, although it also says that the winegrowers have an opportunity to avoid this threatening development. Some popular grape varieties have been analyzed as part of a current study. The main idea is to find out the temperatures at which the individual varieties optimally thrive. There would be 56 percent fewer wine-growing regions if the temperature rose by just two degrees Celsius. Unlike the French region of Burgundy, where winegrowers would have to switch to the heat-resistant Mourvèdre wine, colder countries such as Germany would escape relatively unharmed. If temperatures rose, wine varieties like Pinot Noir in Germany could be moved to regions where there is currently no viticulture, such as northern Germany. In 2019, a larger percentage of the grape harvest was damaged by summer temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius.
Although global warming has a negative impact on viticulture in many countries, no country needs to fear the prospect of there no longer being any wine to buy at any time in the near future. Most wine production can be safeguarded by switching to new grape varieties and moving the vineyards further north. This is of course very reassuring for us here at Rutronik24 - because after successfully closing a business deal, we can still treat ourselves to a little glass of wine to celebrate at the end of the day.