Finding a wine fitting your taste is not only a challenge for the enthusiast, but also connoisseurs. While there are many factors that determine wine styles, the vast diversity of the world’s climate and thousands of wine grapes growing across the globe bring the most variety in the taste and body style.
Climate describes what weather conditions (temperatures, rainfall, sunshine) are expected in a typical year. Climates suitable for wine production are generally divided into hot and cool climates. Broadly speaking, a region’s climate is determined by the latitude or, more simply, how close it is to the equator. The closer a region is to the equator, the hotter the climate: Think of South Africa versus Germany.
Elevation also has an influence. A region at high elevation will have a cooler climate than one closer to sea level even if they share the same latitude. The oceans also influence a wine region, depending on the temperature of the water. Consider the warm ocean current of Western Europe, and many wine regions of California, Chile and South Africa are cooled by cold ocean currents.
A general rule: Hot climate wines will generally be higher in alcohol, fuller body, with more tannin and less acidity. Cooler climate wines will generally have less alcohol, lighter body and more acidity.
Hot/warm climate regions — Argentina, Australia, southern Italy, California, central Spain, central Portugal and Southern France.
- 2015 Pascual Toso Malbec Mendoza, Argentina (about $15 retail)
- 2015 Penfolds Bin 28 Shiraz, Australia (about $32 retail)
Cool climate regions — Oregon, Washington state, New Zealand, Northern France, Germany
- 2015 Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewurztraminer, Washington (about $12 retail)
- 2015 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $33 retail)