The April 2021 issues of Decanter magazine announced a grand experiment in Bordeaux. The addition of six new grape varieties to fight climate change. Given the rigidity of French wine production adding these new varieties to both increase the quality of Bordeaux wines and help stabilize the lucrative industry was a revolution. And, it is not only Bordeaux who is reevaluating French wine with climate change. Champagne expanded the areas under the AOC to include cooler areas to preserve the quality of the wine and increase capacity on the global market. While the French wine industry may seem calcified, these more dramatic and public shifts in viticulture and enology in France are only the more public facing changes that have dramatically changes the taste of French wine. Researchers and consultants have employed a wide range of techniques to “improve” the quality of French wine and expand the industry from its nadir in the mid-1970s when Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, Decanter, and Wine Spectator all sought to help wine drinkers not just in the UK or the US determine quality French wine from plonk. These techniques shared by researchers across the globe including, cold-stabilization, vine clones, trellising systems, and micro-oxygenation to mitigate warming temperatures and erratic weather. In this paper I explore the global forces that not only improved the quality of French wines, but also entrenched a particular style of wine flavor, which I term the global palate for wine.
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