As if the news that chocolate as we know it is on its way out wasn’t depressing enough, now there’s a paucity of wine. And just like with chocolate, the culprit is overconsumption.

American and Chinese demand for wine has doubled in recent years (actually, China’s has doubled twice in the past five years) as wine-growing regions have seen a decline in output due to “modest” harvests, among other factors. According to The Atlantic:

Last year, global supply for wine already barely exceeded demand. Adjusting the demand to include non-wine uses (such as making vermouth), there was actually an undersupply of about 300 million cases, marking the largest such shortfall in almost 50 years.

At the current pace, a global shortage of wine is fast approaching. “Data suggests there may be insufficient supply to meet demand in coming years, as current vintages are released,” the report says.

Global wine consumption has been on the rise almost without interruption (save for a short stint between 2008 and 2009) since the late 1990s….

World production hasn’t managed to keep pace. Outputs have steadily declined in a number of the world’s most prosperous regions. Overall, global production has been on a downward trend ever since the early 2000s, when there were still massive excesses. Peak wine, the report holds, isn’t merely upon us; it already happened—back in 2004.

Lagging production in the world’s three largest wine-producing countries—Spain, France and Italy—is largely to blame. “Area under vine” (the amount of land being used to grow grapes for wine-making) has fallen considerably in all three since 2001.

But one mustn’t despair quite yet. According to a recent press release from the International Organization of Vine and Wine, “wine production in 2013 can be qualified as relatively high.” However, if demand keeps increasing at the same rate (by 2016, the U.S. and China are expected to consume 400 million cases of wine each) a few good harvests won’t be sufficient. Since Europe supplies more than half of the world’s wine, it’s up to countries such as Spain and France to find ways to grow enough vines to keep the wine flowing well into the next century, The Atlantic piece says. Anything else short of a miracle will simply not do.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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