Warm vs. Cool Climate Wines: How to Tell the Difference
Have you ever noticed how every wine description seems to have an abundance of fruit flavors listed? Yet, they aren’t exactly what you were expecting?
If the fruit notes in red wine taste very ripe or even jammy, it’s likely from a warm climate. If it tastes tart or delicate like freshly picked berries, the wine likely came from a cooler climate.
Knowing the climate where a wine was produced can help you find a bottling you’ll like.
What Is Climate’s Influence on Wine?
There are several factors, but the most obvious is temperature. In cooler climates, the heat drops off quickly in the harvest season. Elevation plays a role in climate, as well as high altitudes, which are often cool climates.
Grapes from cooler regions typically don’t ripen as quickly, which results in lower natural sugars and higher acidity. These wines may be described as elegant, fresh, and have tart fruit flavors like cranberry, raspberry, sour cherry, and green apple.
Many grapes such as Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec simply produce wildly different wines, depending on where they are grown. Not all grapes thrive in all climates.
Some are better suited to cooler climates, while others prefer heat and sun. The grapes found in cooler regions include Riesling, Sauvignon, Pinot Gris for whites, and Pinot Noir and Zweigelt for reds.
How Does a Cool Climate Affect Wine?
Grapes growing in cooler climates often face distinct challenges. Vines may be lower yielding, winters can harm or kill the vines, and frost is more common and destructive. If the summer growing season is too short or cool, grapes may not ripen fully by harvest.
That’s why many cooler regions allow chaptalization, the addition of sugar, so alcohol levels increase during fermentation. Such factors tend to result in greater variations between vintage.
Are Warm-Climate Wines Better?
Sunshine, consistent weather, and a longer fall ripening period produce wines that possess fuller bodies and flavors. Grapes ripen faster and accumulate more sugars, which result in high alcohol levels during fermentation. Warm climate wines tend to have fruit flavors like plums, blueberry, blackberries and can even exhibit chocolate notes.
However, a warm climate has its problems too. Growers struggle to retain acidity in the grapes, which decreases as sugar accumulates and keeps their wine tasting fresh. Also, grapes grown in hotter climates have thicker skins, which contribute to more tannin.
Metro Wines in Asheville, NC
Buy a single variety of wines from both a warm climate and a cool climate and taste them side by side. At Metro Wines in Asheville, we offer a wide selection of wines, expert advice, and excellent service.
With a variety of wines, you can indulge in a new wine or invest in a wine you know you will enjoy. Visit our website or stop by our shop and experience weekly tastings and events.