Wine Regions: Cool Climate versus Warm Climate

Understanding where your wine is coming from and where the grapes were harvested is important. The ripeness of the grapes will ultimately dictate how much alcohol, how much sugar and how much acidity is present in your wine.

Ripeness is important to all fruits and vegetables. How warm the growing climate is, translates to how ripe your fruits and vegetables are going to be when you consume them. This rule also applies to wine. There are certain varietals of grapes that are better suited to warm climate regions. However, there are also varietals that produce better wine in cooler regions.

When grapes ripen the relative amount of acidity present in the grape will diminish and overall sugar levels will increase. The amount of sugar present in the grape at the start of fermentation will directly correlate with how much alcohol can be produced. The yeast added to the must (crushed/destemmed grapes) ferment the sugar to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Image shows what happens while grapes ripen.

How acidity and overall sugar content fluctuates in grapes while they ripen.

This means that as a general rule of thumb warm climate regions are better suited for most red wines and cooler regions are better suited for producing white wine. For example, red wines like Merlot or Zinfandel will ripen more easily in warm areas like California. But if you’re searching for a crisp, dry Chardonnay a cooler region like Chablis will be ideal for producing this type of wine.

In a warm climate region like Italy, the grapes are more likely to experience steady, warm temperatures. This is great for the production of sugar, but not so great for maintaining the natural acidity of the grape. Therefore, these regions will produce wines with more ripeness, higher levels of alcohol and more fruit. Cooler regions will produce wines with more vibrancy and acidity. These cool regions do get warm but the season is considerably shorter and it will become cooler earlier than in warmer regions. But of course, weather does vary. Therefore, make sure to pay attention to the vintage because cool regions can have warm years and vice versa!

Make sure to check out Rosehill Wine Cellars for all of your wine storage and wine drinking needs!