What Effect Does The Climate Have On Wine Characteristics?
Dec 20, 2023
The climate that wine is produced in plays a crucial role in the style and characteristics of the wine. There are two primary types of wine climate: cool climates and warm climates. This affects the grape varieties that will grow and the ripening process, and the flavour and acidity of the wine. Here’s a look in some more depth at the differences between them.
Wine regions fall within a circle of latitude north and south of the equator. The regions that fall closest to the equator in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres tend to have the ideal temperature for growing grapes.
Warm climates include countries such as Australia, Italy, Spain, Argentina, and South Africa. Cool climates include countries such as Germany, North America, the UK and New Zealand. The warmer climate wines require plenty of sunshine and an average daily temperature of 17-22°c during the growing season, with rare frosts and low rainfall.
Cooler climate wines require a growing season temperature of 12-15°c during the daytime and tend to have less sunshine and higher rainfall, such as parts of New Zealand and the US, northern France, Germany, and the UK.
Warm climate wines
Warm climate wines are made with grapes that ripen quickly in the sunshine, which leads to a higher concentration of sugar. This makes the wine full and fruity, with a higher concentration of alcohol and lower acidity levels. Red wine has a higher tannin content due to the thicker skins of the grapes, and a deep and rich colour.
The most common red wine grape varieties from warm climates include Malbec, Shiraz, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel. White grape varieties include Chardonnay (although this will also grow in cool climates) and Viognier.
They tend to be fruity and sweeter than cool climate whites, with a full to medium body, lower acidity, and nutty or tropical overtones. The reds can have intense and complex flavour and aromas that pair well with rich fatty foods.
Cool climate wines
Grapes grown in cooler climates tend to ripen more slowly and this means that they have higher levels of acidity and less sugar. This gives the wine a crisp brigh flavour and a lighter body. They also tend to have a lower alcohol content than warm climate wines.
The most common red grape varieties from cool climates include Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. White grape varieties include the popular Sauvignon Blanc (most often grown in France and New Zealand), Chardonnay and Riesling.
They tend to have zesty flavours that can be fragrant, or slightly earthy and complex. The wines tend to have lighter colours and a lower tannin content. They are generally low to medium body and are crisp and refreshing.