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Climate change and new trends in wine consumption

, Changing patterns of consumption have resulted in a boon for white wine production.

People are increasingly turning away from eating red meat and that has helped boost the popularity of white wine, says Christophe Chateau.

He was speaking at this year’s Eat Festival at Tour & Taxis in Brussels.

The popular annual event showcases the best of both Brussels and Belgian cuisine and also wines from Bordeaux.

Since Thursday, over 20,000 plates and 17,000 beer and Bordeaux wine tastings were served at the event.

The aptly-named Chateau, director of communications at the Bordeaux-based Conseil Interprofessionnel Du Vin De Bordeaux, told this website that production of white wine in Bordeaux was rising at a much faster rate than red wine, for which the region is particularly well-known throughout the world.

“People are eating less meat and that is having a real impact on the production and consumption of white wine,” he said.

Red wine still accounts for the vast majority of production in Bordeaux. About 85 percent of the region’s output is red, followed by white at 11 percent while rose wine accounts for 4 percent, he said.

But, he noted, it is estimated that such is the rapid growth in the popularity of Bordeaux whites that within 5 to ten years red wine production in Bordeaux could be down to 80 percent.

Climate change is also having a big impact on wine production, he said, with many wine growers “scared” of the recent trend in violent weather events.

He said out-of-season storms, heavy rains, frost, and hailstones were now occurring at a far more regular frequency than in the past and the impact on wine production was a “big deal.”

He added, “Making wine, today, is much more difficult than in the past because of climate change. Remember that wine growers are out in the fields all day so they witness all this at first hand.”

The good news, he added, was that generally drier and hotter summers, such as those Europe has seen in recent years, were more likely to result in better-quality wines. He noted that Belgium was also now producing good quality wine, particularly sparkling wine.

A good vintage, he said, is now more frequent and regular than in years gone by.

He said one of the aims of Eat Festival was to showcase the best of Bordeaux wine in what,he added, was an important market for the region’s wine industry.

Belgium, despite its size, is the third biggest export market for Bordeaux wine, representing 23 million bottles per year (90 percent of which is red).

The top spot goes to China with 38m bottles of Bordeaux wine exports per year followed by the United States, with 30m bottles.

Vin de Bordeaux had an 800 square meter booth/bar at the event which concluded on Sunday and a Bordeaux wine school on site, where the public could benefit from expert talks on wine production.

Some 60 Brussels-based chefs were on hand to serve their signature dishes to visitors.

Similar Eat Festival events are now held in Hong Kong and Quebec and, next year, Liverpool will stage a “Test Liverpool, Drink Bordeaux” festival.

Chateau added, “Belgium is a big market for us so after we launched a wine festival in Bordeaux in the late 1990s, it was important to have a similar event here and this is the 2nd successive year it has been held at Tour&Taxis.”

Elsewhere at the event, local Brussels-based producers had the chance to promote their products.

These include “Belgian Beer Jam”, a relatively new company that uses the fruit “leftovers” in the production of Belgium’s famous fruit beer to make jams.

Rob Renaerts, from the company, said the different flavored jams were “unique” and had proved a big hit with the public.

Another local enterprise, called Pots de i’ilot, showcased at Eat Festival highlighted the valuable work done to help the homeless in Brussels. Under this pioneering socio-economic project, homeless people are given the chance to produce foodstuffs such as dips which are sold in shops. It is hoped this will, in turn, provide them with the necessary skills to find employment.

Eat Festival also hosted the fourth competition to find the best shrimp croquette in Brussels. A competition in which a total of 20 establishments participated.

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