Monday, August 20, 2012

Fine Wine and Food from England and Global Warming

Fine English Wine.

Sounds like a joke, right? Much like great English cooking.

For years the British have been much maligned for their food, and the idea of fine English wine was non-existent.

No longer true. As I noted in a post about the quality of the varied restaurants in Shepherd’s Market, wonderful dining can be had in Great Britain. And frankly, while much ‘English’ food tended toward the bland, there was still much to enjoy: rare roast beef, Stilton and Cheddar cheeses and of course, Bangers and Mash.

I remember fondly a trip we took to London in November a few years ago. We arrived on Thanksgiving Day and ended up at the Fuller’s Pub next to the Tate Modern. I had Bangers and Mash with Mushy Peas for my Thanksgiving meal and thoroughly enjoyed it. I accompanied it with a pint of London Pride. But I could have had wine. English wine.

The quality and availability of wine produced in southern England has vastly improved. English wines are winning awards and finding believers – sparkling wines from England are even beating French Champagnes in international competitions.

Wine grapes can successfully be grown in the northern Hemisphere between 30 and 50 degrees north latitude. Anything below that is too hot and above is too cold. But that band of latitude is actually moving north. The southern-most regions are becoming too hot and areas just north of the band are becoming hospitable to wine grapes.

Why? Global Warming.

Historically, England’s climate was too cold and rainy for wine grapes to ripen successfully but the climate change that is result of global warming has changed that and will change it even more in the future.

Between 1961 and 2006, average temperatures in southern England increased by 3 degrees Fahrenheit. (In in the wine growing regions of California and Washington State average temperatures have risen 4.5 degrees in the last 50 years)
So while overall global warming is a serious problem it is ironically creating winners in some places and industries.

There are now, roughly 400 wineries in Great Britain. The largest, Denbies Wine Estate, has now even planted Sauvignon Blanc vines, a grape associated with Bordeaux.

So, the bad news is that global warming is real and dangerous. The good news is that when you are in London, you can have a glass of locally produced fine wine, with your even better British food.

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