Temperature from vine to glass
Tue, 06 December 2016
Temperature is very important when it comes to wine, not just for when you are storing it or serving it, but all the way from the very beginning. The moment a viticulturist plants a vine, temperature plays a big role throughout the process of the grapes growing, being processed into wine, being transported and stored correctly until the moment it hits your glass at the perfect degree.
It all begins where the grapes are grown. There are two climates that grapes are grown in: warm climate or cool climate. Even if the varietal is the same, the taste of the fruit will vary depending on which climate it was grown in.
Like all fruit, a grape needs a certain amount of warmth and sunlight in order to ripen fully. A sufficient amount of heat during growing season will yield a good crop, allowing the growers enough grapes to make wine or to sell on to winemakers. No one is in charge of the weather, so each year is different and no one really knows how it is going to play out. A colder than usual year will produce a very different tasting crop to one that has experienced a warmer than usual season.
Just as the sun needs to be shining enough throughout the summer to produce an abundance of fruit, it also needs to become cold enough for the vine to go dormant during winter. The dormant part of the life cycle is actually just as important as the growing stage.
Grapes for wine are grown in all parts of the world. It can come from regions that experience colder temperatures, like New Zealand or Tasmania, or it can come from warm climates like Spain and Argentina. All of these regions work to their own strengths and plant varietals that are more suitable to the climate they are in. However, it is possible to grow most varietals in any climate, it will just impact on the taste of the fruit and therefore the wine.
Cool climate wine
A cool climate region is just that; an area that experiences colder temperatures. It doesn’t need to be an area that stays cold all year round, in fact they rarely do. In the warmer months they may experience very high temperatures, but there are other factors at play with how the grapes grow. It can depend on the length of the growing season, how fast the temperature drops off towards harvest time and how much direct sunlight the fruit is exposed to during the season. A cool climate may have a warm day, but the amount of hours the sun is out is vastly different to a warm climate. The metabolic process of the vine and the fruit will be slowed down due to less, or weaker, sunlight and the development of sugar slows down. This is why the wine will be more acidic than the warm climate wines.
A cool climate wine will be lower in alcohol, be light bodied and have a subtler taste. It will be higher in acidity. The type of grapes that thrive in cool climates are: pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.
Warm climate wine
A warm climate will experience hot temperatures and a lot of direct sunlight. A direct, strong sun for more hours of the day will make the fruit grow faster and ripen more quickly. The sun also plays the lead role in how much sugar grows within the grape, so a warm climate wine will be sweeter to taste as the sugar content is higher.
A warm climate wine is usually bolder, with a full body and stronger fruit flavours. It will have a higher alcohol content and less acidity. Most reds are suited to warm climates.
Transportation and storage
No matter which climate a grape has been grown in, even if it is from the hottest corner of the earth, once produced into wine it should never be exposed to too much heat.
One of the biggest concerns for the growers and the wine producers is that the transportation of the wine to the shops and eventually to the consumer is done with the utmost care, so that each person can enjoy the same taste from the wine that the maker had intended. When wine is exposed to heat it will begin the aging process and can actually age a bottle up to four times faster than one that has been kept within the correct temperature range.
Once a customer has purchased a bottle of wine and intends to drive home with it, there is no need to be concerned about the temperature fluctuation from the liquor shop, to the car, to the house. A slow and small variation is not going to make a huge difference. However, if the wine is accidentally left in a hot car for a day or two there will be an unpleasant difference in the taste once it is eventually opened.
At Taylors Wines we have developed a unique, touch activated temperature sensor so you can tell when your wine is at the perfect serving temperature to enjoy. Read more about our new Optimum Drinking Temperature sensor and order your FREE sensor stickers today to take the Taylors Temperature Challenge and see the difference for yourself.