A Few of the Ways That Climate Affects Wine

The kind of grape used in the making of wine has a lot to do with how it eventually turns out. And where those grapes were grown also has a huge part to play in how good or bad the final product will be. Even more important is the climate that the grapes grow in; there is a reason for a preference of grapes from certain regions because those produce the best quality.


Climate is the driving factor for grape production. The kind of soil used may not matter as much, but the temperatures need to be in the right conditions. Although both Napa Valley and Bordeaux have different climates, both are able to produce Cabernet Sauvignon.


Cool or Warm


Grapes can grow in both cool and warm climates, but there will be differences when it comes to taste. Wines that are more subtle, have a lower alcohol content, and have bright fruity flavors come from regions that have a cool climate. On the other hand, warmer regions tend to produce wines that are bolder, fuller in body, have higher alcohol content, and feature darker fruit flavors.


Climate classification systems are used to compare different wine regions. The most popular system being used is the Köppen climate classification system which divides climates into the following groups:


  • tropical
  • dry
  • mild mid-latitude
  • severe mid-latitude
  • polar
  • highland



The groups listed above are further subdivided based on the temperature and precipitation of a particular region. While common knowledge would put the Mediterranean as the best place to grow grapes, the truth is that mild mid-latitude climates make up the majority of wine growing regions around the world. Other climate types suitable for grape growing include:


  • humid subtropical (like the climates of eastern Australia, eastern US, and Uruguay)
  • maritime temperate (like Bordeaux region in France)
  • maritime subarctic (like British Columbia)



Climate Change


The journal Nature Climate Change published a study in 2016 suggesting that rising global temperatures can actually contribute to producing better wine. But also warned that the continuous warming of the earth will be trouble in the long run.


Climate change has also caused traditionally non-wine producing regions to actually grow grapes. For example, the warming temperatures have allowed vineyards to thrive in Scandinavia. Although wine can grow in such regions, vineyards are also subject to weather or climate risks, like freezing during winter.


Available Sunlight


Grapes – and all crops for that matter – need solar energy to grow. Solar energy is responsible for the development of sugar content of grapes and its alcohol content. This is why location matters when growing grapes for wine production. Some areas on earth do not receive enough solar radiation in a year.



Right Temperature Conditions


Temperature is crucial because it affects when the grapes ripen and the quality of the fruit. Although the growing season varies, it typically hovers around 170-190 days. Grape growing is also favored more in regions where temperatures for the warmest month is around 66 degrees Fahrenheit while the coldest months are more than 30 degrees Fahrenheit.



Extreme Temperatures


Too much heat affects the growth of plants, and climates that are too cool minimize the yield. While grapes do like warm temperatures, too much of it can spell trouble.



Other factors such as wind and precipitation can also affect grape growth. All this goes to show that climate plays a huge role in how wine eventually turns out. And if you’ve found wine that has turned out spectacular, don’t forget about the importance of storing that wine. Contact Chateau 55 for more information on your options!


Chateau 55 is centrally located and proud to serve San Diego County, including but not limited to the cities of: Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, Carlsbad, San Marcos, and Escondido

A Brief Primer on Wine Tasting

The drinking of wine can be likened to the listening of music. It’s nice to just be doing it, but you can get a lot more satisfaction if you pay attention. Just like music, wine comes in different varieties; you won’t find a taste you prefer unless you’ve been wine tasting a few times. And just like music, you develop a preference which you will use as a comparison point for other wines to come.


Choosing a wine you like all starts with tasting. But you don’t just pour wine into a glass then take a sip; there’s a process involved. Here’s how to do it:


Wine Tasting Conditions


The circumstances you’re in affect the tasting experience. For instance, a noisy room makes it difficult to focus. The presence of other scents can affect how you perceive a wine’s aroma. Even the glass you’re using changes how you taste the wine: anything too small, in the wrong shape, or not washed properly can affect the flavor of the wine. Other factors that pose a challenge to the tasting experience include wine temperature, the age of the wine, and the residual flavors of what you are eating or drinking.


Since many factors pose a challenge to wine tasting, it helps to ensure the right conditions are met so you can properly assess what you’re drinking.


Visual Inspection


Much can be said about wine based on its appearance. For instance, a lot of practice allows you to identify the type of grape used just based on color. Here’s a brief guide to evaluating wine by sight:

  • Look down into the glass. Observe the depth of color as that lets you know the wine’s density and saturation as well as the kind of grape used. For example, a dark shade might be Syrah while a lighter shade could be Pinot Noir.
  • View from the side. Doing this allows you to determine the wine’s clarity. Murky liquid may indicate problems with fermentation or it could have been shaken before it was poured. The best wines are clear and show some sparkle.
  • Tilt the glass. This allows the liquid to thin out, giving you a better clue about the wine’s age and weight. Darker edges usually indicate an older wine.
  • Swirl the glass. Check if there are “legs” or “tears”, the liquid that runs down the side of the glass. Good legs indicate more alcohol and glycerin, which means that the wine is riper and denser.


Olfactory Evaluation


Don’t be afraid to inhale deeply. The nose can distinguish around 10,000 scents so you really need to get a good sense of it. This might be a difficult step but you can always step away for about 20 to 30 seconds then try to give it another go. Take note of what your nose can detect: is it floral, fruity, pungent, spicy, or woody?


Taste Test


While the nose can detect thousands of smells, the tongue can only discern four: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Sweetness, acidity, and tannin are used to describe a wine’s taste.


Wines tend to be sour because of the acid from the grapes but the intensity depends on the kind of grape and the climate it was grown in. Bitter wines like Pinot Grigio offer a taste similar to tonic water while white table wines tend to be sweet because the sugars are retained. While sweetness and acidity are familiar, tannin leaves a dryness in the mouth after you swallow.


You also need to take some time before moving to taste the next bottle of wine. Doing this ensures that your palette is clear so that you can have a better sense of the next wine you’re tasting.



Wine tasting is about finding a flavor you like. Although it can be a subjective affair, you can always compare observations with fellow wine tasters to get a different perspective. For more information on where to store your favorite wines, contact Chateau 55 today!


Chateau 55 is centrally located and proud to serve San Diego County, including but not limited to the cities of: Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, Carlsbad, San Marcos, and Escondido