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Forget About Sriracha, We're Facing a Global Wine Shortage

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With residents in a southern California town suing the company that makes sriracha hot sauce, saying the plant's smell are burning their throats and noses, spicy food lovers have been up in arms about possible price hikes should the production facility have to shut down. Will there be enough hot sauce to go around? The company's CEO says the factory is making some 200,000 bottles a day. All are being sold -- and they're barely meeting demand.

But who cares about that? A recent report from Morgan Stanley Research says the entire world is facing a growing wine shortage. And despite a strong harvest this season, the situation is only getting worse.

Now that's a scary thought.

See also: Coming Soon: Global Bacon Shortage

Last year, the global wine supply barely outpaced demand, and with wine consumption on the rise and production on a downward trend, the problem is only going to get worse in coming years.

"Data suggests there may be insufficient supply to meet demand in coming years, as current vintages are released," the report says.

The problem starts with the fact that people are drinking more wine now than ever. Since the late 1990s, wine consumption has risen steadily. In the United States, where about 12 percent of the world's wine gets guzzled, per capita consumption has doubled in the past 13 years. And in China, currently the world's fifth-largest import market, per capita consumption doubled twice in the same amount of time.

On the other hand, production, not only in Europe but all over the world, has failed to keep up with growing demand. Since 2004, global wine production has been in steady decline, in part because the world's largest wine-producing countries aren't making enough. In Spain, France, and Italy, the "area under vine," or the land that's used to grow wine-making grapes, has decreased since 2003.

On the upside, this was the strongest harvest for many winemakers in the past five years. But experts say one strong harvest won't be enough to avoid a wine shortage.

With the United States and China expected to drink more than 400 million cases of wine each by 2016, Europe (where 60 percent of the world's wine is produced) will have to play a role in increasing supply. The new world market, which includes countries such as U.S., Australia, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, and New Zealand, still only accounts for less than 30 percent of global wine exports and production.

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