China blasts wine plants into outer space to toughen them up

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Last week during its autumn festival celebrations, China did something a bit wacky. According to Decanter, vines for Cabernet Savignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir wines were launched into space in China’s new “space palace,” the Tiangong-2 laboratory. Scientists are hoping this experiment will help the plants beat harsh climate changes on Earth.

According to the Guardian, China consumes more red wine than any other country in the world and has more vineyards than France. To keep up with this demand, vineyards are popping up in regions with less-than-ideal conditions for grape growing.

So what’s a country drunk on making wine to do? Some grape growers have to take the drastic step of burying the vines in winter to protect them from frigid conditions. However, as an alternative, scientists are trying to grow some vines away from Earth in the hopes of making the plants adjust to harsh conditions such as cold temperatures, lack of water and disease. This might cause mutations that could assist the plants in becoming more resilient.

We’ll know soon enough. In October, scientists will pay the vines a little visit to ascertain their progress over 30 days.

Let’s hope this is one small step for Chinese winegrowers and a giant leap for all mankind. [Decanter]