Warm climate wines tend to be very popular among wine drinkers. Making wine in warmer temperatures tends to produce fruit-forward wine. Wine enthusiasts who know the difference between cool regions and warm regions can almost always find a great bottle.
Warm Climate Wines Flavor Profile
A few common factors can be found in the warm region type of wine. To help you get ready for your next wine tasting, consider a white wine example (i.e., Sauvignon Blanc) and a red wine example (i.e., Pinot Noir).
Red wines made in warm climates tend to have ripe fruit flavors. For Pinot Noir, you can expert a ripe cherry and raspberry flavor. Likewise, white wines, including Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, taste differently based on the region’s temperature. Traditionally, Sauvignon Blanc is best suited for cooler climates because it can overripen in a warm climate.
The natural sugars in wine grapes are significantly affected by being grown in a warm-climate region. Specifically, warmer climate wines tend to have sugar levels. If you taste a very sweet wine in a blind tasting, there’s a good chance it is either a dessert wine or a wine produced in a warmer climate.
The climate strongly influences the level of alcohol content in wine. A warm climate tends to produce a wine with a high level of alcohol. Wines made in the warmer areas of California sometimes have over 15% alcohol content, and the climate is a big reason driving those high levels of alcohol content. If you want low alcohol wines instead, look for wines produced in cooler regions like Canada, Germany, or the northern United States.
The climate also significantly impacts acidity levels. Generally, acidity decreases in a warm climate. A cool climate like Northern Italy tends to produce wine with higher acidity. When acidity drops, it is easier to focus on other aspects of the wine, like its ripe fruit flavors.
The Top Warm Climate Wine Regions
Usually, wine labels will not tell you if a specific wine region is warm or cool. Instead, you need to know the characteristics of different regions. Fortunately for wine enthusiasts, it’s easy to learn the difference. In warmer regions, it’s relatively easy to grow wine grapes. The high temperatures in these regions tend to have relatively high
Warm Climates In Europe
In the wine industry, wines produced in Europe are traditionally described as “Old World,” while wines produced everywhere else are described as New World.
Hotter climates in Europe include those regions that border the Mediterranean sea. Also known as the Mediterranean climate, this area covers southern France, Corsica, southern Italy, southern Spain, Greece, and Malta. In addition, warm temperatures are typical in most northern Spain, Portugal, and several parts of France like Languedoc-Roussillon.
Warm Climate Wines Outside Europe
Beyond Europe, there are many warmer climates of note. Take Australia, for example. Look for wines made in South Australia and the Barossa Valley. In contrast, the Yarra Valley in Australia is an incredible climate region. South Africa is a warm wine region with a Mediterranean climate.
The Top Cool Climate Wine Regions
After enjoying many warm-climate wines, you might be in the mood for something different. That’s a great time to shop for wines made in cool regions. For example, you might choose a few wines from cold climates like Germany or Canada and see how wine producers in those regions compared to warm areas.
I’m Canadian, so I recommend exploring Canada’s amazing wine regions. In particular, the Niagara region of Ontario and the wine producers in British Columbia make excellent wines. For a special treat, pick up winter wines from Canada. Winter wines are commonly enjoyed as a Christmas-time treat. Want to know more about winter wines? Check out this guide to spicy red wine (i.e., mulled wine) – it is one of the most popular holiday wine traditions.
No list of cool climate wines is complete without covering Germany. In particular, Germany’s white wines like Riesling, Pinot Meunier, and Trollinger are well regarded. The natural acidity of German wines makes these wines delightfully refreshing in warm weather.
Northern United States
Most people are familiar with warm climates like the Napa Valley are well known. However, wine grapes are also grown in other regions. For example, the Pacific Northwest of Oregon and Washington stand out as an outstanding cooler region. In addition, including wines from the Finger Lakes wine region of New York is well rewarded.
Climate Matters, But It Isn’t Everything
At this point, you might think that temperature and climate factors are the sole factors that determine wine flavors. While climate is critically important, it is far from the only factor. The winemaking process matters as well. For example, wine fermentation using oak barrels tends to change the wine’s flavor by adding vanilla and spice notes. In comparison, wine fermentation with steel containers has a minimal impact on the wine’s taste.
In addition, many wine producers use additives in their wine. These modifications are sometimes used to make a vintage more consistent with a producer’s traditional style. In some cases, the wine’s sugar level is artificially increased during the production process. While some adjustments are standard, some winemakers excessively rely on these techniques to change the wine.
Look for natural wines if you want to taste the warm-climate and cool climate wines with minimal changes. While there is no single definition of natural wines, this type of wine tends to have fewer interventions.
Warm Climate Wine In Summary
As a rule, warmer climate wines tend to have high alcohol, higher sugar levels, lower acidity, and a more fruity taste. The best way to learn the difference between warm climate and cooler climate wines is to have a blind tasting comparing both of them. For example, pick up a bottle of wine from Northern Italy and get a bottle of the same varietal from a warm climate like California. For more tips on organizing a wine tasting party, see this guide to planning a wine tasting at home.