One option, says Audeguin, is to introduce grape varieties that deliver lower alcohol in hot, dry growing conditions.
With this in mind, the IFV has scoured southern Europe for likely candidates to import into France.
“We are selecting grape varieties from south Italy, the Greek Peloponnese islands, Spain and Portugal. We don’t breed these, we just try to import these varieties and see how they perform in France. The plan is to have some varieties authorized in France within five years,” said Audeguin.
Vintners are also experimenting with new strategies in pruning, leaf canopy management and irrigation.
In the meantime, low-alcohol wines are increasingly popular.
Domaines Auriol, based in Languedoc-Roussillon, produces So’ Light, a wine with nine-percent alcohol content that appeared on American store shelves last January.
In Britain, according to Chris Wisson, a senior drinks analyst at Mintel, the low-alcohol wine market is worth US$36 million with strong growth pushed by government taxes on alcohol and health concerns.
“The rising price of wine has made people try low-alcohol wines, and there is certainly a health side to it,” said Wisson. Demand, he says, is driven primarily by women and young drinkers aged 18 to 24.
For fine-wine stalwarts, there is another option.
“Naturally if one sees a high alcohol level on the label of a bottle you need to adjust the amount you might decide to drink accordingly, but that is just common sense,” Seely said.
Common sense? Maybe. Common practice? Maybe not!
Warning: Excessive consumption of alcohol can damage your health.