Always thinking practically, China believes it’s solved the problem of a warming planet that’s eventually destroying all of the world’s wine. The plan actually went into action last week, when the China National Space Administration blasted a selection of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir vines up into space aboard the new space lab Tiangong-2. The plants will hang out there in zero gravity until October, when Beijing will send up a team of two researchers to observe any genetic changes for the next 30 days.
The goal, according to a report by wine magazine Decanter, is that outer space “will trigger mutations in the vines that may make them more suitable for [Earth’s] harsh climate,” particularly in Ningxia, a region that’s home to some of China’s top vineyards, yet somehow hits -13 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. Scientists suspect some sort of “space radiation” could trigger mutations that help grapes “evolve new resistance to coldness, drought, and viruses,” and resilient vines capable of withstanding extreme weather would of course be a big sigh of relief for nervous winemakers around the world. So while alcohol consumption is currently linked to only seven kinds of cancer, maybe once these Chinese reds make it to market, the kind you get from cosmic rays can be added to the list.