Monday, November 2, 2015

Dull Palates: WUWT deniers are not connoisseurs of wine

While flailing about for some science to deny, Anthony Watts has put up another article by Eric Worrall (archived here). Eric copied and pasted an excerpt from an article about wine. If Eric thinks that climate change isn't affecting wine production, he's wrong. Just as science deniers don't have a clue about science, neither do they have a clue about wine.

The article was from Reuters, and it was about winemakers and wine grape growers adapting to climate change. Although it had a positive slant, everyone who knows anything about wine knows that climate change is going to change the type and taste of wine.

The article did put a positive spin on the situation, saying that grapes are adaptable. That may be so, but if a winemaker wants a particular wine, they'll be getting the grapes from different places in the future, if they can. Here's the bit that Eric Worrall copied:

Good news for wine drinkers: a leading international body says grape vines are a hardy little number and can survive climate change, at least over the medium term.

Earlier harvesting, changes in grape varieties and new wine-making processes have already helped counter the impact of the harsher weather hitting vineyards across the globe, the head of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) says.

“Wine producers all over the world have adapted to the changes and the plant has a capacity of adjustment that you can find in no other plant,” OIV Director General Jean-Marie Aurand told Reuters in an interview.

He cited the example of the Canary island of Lanzarote where vines are grown in lava which absorbs overnight dew – virtually the sole water they receive in the summer – and releases it during the day.

In China, he said, more than 80 percent of production acreage is located in regions where temperatures can drop below minus 30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter. Growers cover vines to protect them and uncover them when spring comes.

Notice the second and third paragraphs in particular. It's clear that climate change is already affecting vineyards. So for people that yearn for wines of the 1970s from their favourite winemaker, they'll probably never get it again.

Yet Eric Worrall blithely wrote:
This kind of broad range of growing conditions seems common. Pick up any vegetable seed packet from your local garden shop, and you will see instructions for growing the plant in a wide range of climatic conditions, in different regions of your country.
That shows that he's probably a beer swiller, not a connoisseur of fine wine.

Eric seemed to think that wine is wine is wine. It's not. At least not to people who enjoy wine. Climate (and weather) makes all the difference. The same variety grown one year will yield a different tasting wine to that grown another year. That's just from slightly different weather (and why the vintage of a wine is important). When the whole climate changes, then some varieties will no longer be suitable.

Wine grapes: A highly climate sensitive crop

I went to the website of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine and found that there were a whole lot of papers from the 38th World Congress of Vine and Wine. At least two of the papers were about climate change. One of them starts with this sentence:
Grapes for wine production are a highly climate sensitive crop and vineyard water budget is a decisive factor in quality formation.

I've written before about how some of Australia's fine winemakers and wine grape growers from Victoria are setting up operations further south. And about the only place further south you can go is Tasmania. I quoted an article from
Brown Brothers Wineries CEO Ross Brown said he was sufficiently alarmed by climate change to have started relocating production of cooler varieties to Tasmania’s Tamar Ridge winery.

I'm not really surprised to find that WUWT deniers are not wine lovers. They are not what you'd call a sophisticated bunch. (Eric isn't a coffee snob either. It looks as if to him, one coffee bean is the same as any other, which is also not a surprise.)

From the WUWT comments

Latitude doesn't even know that weather is changing:
October 31, 2015 at 8:09 am
helped counter the impact of the harsher weather hitting vineyards across the globe,……..
say what?

Ernest Bush thinks maybe an ice age is coming:
October 31, 2015 at 8:47 am
As far as I know the most sought after wines grow in what most would consider harsh weather. Temecula, CA, has really hot, dry summers and mild winters. In Santa Rosa, the heart of California wine country it sometimes feels like Yuma, AZ, in summer. In fact they are trying to learn to grow wine grapes south of Phoenix, but I haven’t tasted anything from there I like. Table grapes are grown in Yuma County and some of the hottest places in California. Grape growers will have no problem if warming picks up again for a long time. The problem will come if the other shoe drops, and we all get a little colder. 

Hugs knows zilch about wine grape growing (and farming):
October 31, 2015 at 10:31 am
“the plant has a capacity of adjustment that you can find in no other plant
Who could take such a statement as a fact?
Fact is, winemakers are not seeing any trouble, as yearly variation overwhelms any global component in local variation. There is absolutely no point of telling Vitis is capable to adjust as of course it is. All plants need to adjust to differing years. The delicate balance of Nature is not so delicate!
The long term 0.01 degree C/year change means the average optimum climatic zone might move 10 meters up the hill in a decade. That won’t stop any farming! 

References and further reading

From the HotWhopper archives


  1. "I'm not really surprised to find that WUWT deniers are not wine lovers. They are not what you'd call a sophisticated bunch."

    Sour grapes don't result in fine whines.

    1. (As the WUWT commenters routinely demonstrate.)

  2. So either the WUWT fanboys have had another bout of amnesia concerning previous WUWT memes, or they think that scientists have confused grapevines by falsifying the historical temperature record.

    But I'm not sure many wine lovers are as sophisticated as they think they are.

    1. Millicent,

      Interesting test, but those sampled likely represented "a cross-section of the general public" rather than true wine snobs (sorry, 'experts').

      Previous controlled tests of experts suggest they are more likely than the average Joe to distinguish between less and more expensive styles of wine:

      I think it was this observation that prompted one economist (of 'Freakonomics' fame) to advise against acquiring a palate for fine wines in the first place.

      If you're happy with plonk, then why develop a palate that will commit you to buying ever more expensive wine? Ignorance is bliss in this case.

    2. I've never seen any reason whatsoever to venture away from a consistent Carolina Red. A buyer at Winco on the left coast let me taste multiple local wines. Junk. Then I gave her a bottle of Carolina Red, she absolutely could not believe wine could be that good.

    3. "why develop a palate that will commit you to buying ever more expensive wine? Ignorance is bliss in this case."

      Another Koch brother - Bill Koch - might sympathise.

  3. Ah yes, fond memories of the Barossa Valley. We visited friends in Australia in 1988, up in the hills in Emerald just outside of Melbourne, and they drove us up there. Brown Brothers and St. Leonards is all I can remember, but what a weekend. The B&Bs were all 'bring your own', and had fine dining restaurants attached.

    I still have an operational St. Leonards wine opener to this day. Methinks AGW might just affect their operation moving forward, though :-\

    1. You're a bit off with your geography there metzo! Brown Bros is nowhere near the Barossa (South Australia). Their historic winery is near Wangaratta in the NE of Victoria (about 2-3 hours from Melbourne), a stone's throw from our hostess! St Leonards winery is not far away at Rutherglen (beloved temperature site of Jen Marohasy)
      A touch too much muscat was consumed I think...

      R the Anon

      R the Anon

    2. Thanks for the correction, anon. That's right, it was about a 2 - 3 hr drive NE of Melbourne. Don't know how I got it into my head that it was the Barossa Valley. As you say, probably all that muscat blurred the memory a bit :-)

  4. >Fact is, winemakers are not seeing any trouble, as yearly variation overwhelms any global component in local variation.<

    Hugs should take this news to the World Congress of Vine and Wine and educate all those so-called experts . What do a bunch of "vintners" know about grapes anyway?

  5. Bordeaux is now run by much more skilled winemakers - they have been to university and studied the subject - than it used to be. The first generation of qualified winemakers - in the eighties - noticed that one of the traditional varieties, carmenere, hardly ever ripened properly, so they got rid of it. My host when I visited Bordeaux last month was replanting a section of the vineyard with carmenere because, as the climate has warmed, other varieties became over ripe.
    The flavour of wine is intensely sensitive to both ripeness levels and grape varieties. It's adapting to climate change, and the taste of the wine is changing because of it.

  6. I thot WUWT was really good on the whine.

  7. Perhaps the deniers confuse whinery with the real thing, winery.

    After all, whinery has no appreciation for quality.

    However, I take exception to the slur "beer swiller" as beer has its own, albeit different, appreciation of quality.

    1. Yeah, sorry for OTT on beer (and wine and and coffee). I was piling on the snobbery :D

      I'm also a beer lover, but not a beer connoisseur (or a wine connoisseur) :)

    2. I think the modern world can keep working without wine, and even without beer, but can it keep working without coffee? I doubt it.

    3. Hmm, beer (and wine) has been with us since we stopped being nomads and started cultivation, so they have been with us since the dawn of civilisation... Coffee is a newcomer.

      But, I really like all of the above. :-)

      I guess I'll stop w(h)ining for now.


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