Samui Wining & Dining
Whether It’s Weather

Do the weather conditions at the time of drinking wine actually affect the taste of it?

27Wine enthusiasts love to analyze every aspect of their wine enjoyment. It’s part of the obsession that has us in a vice-like grip. Hopefully, it’s not so hard to understand; most people obsess about something at some stage in their lives. And one slightly obscure aspect of wine appreciation to obsess about, that had never occurred to me before a fellow wine nut mentioned it, albeit lightheartedly, is the weather’s influence (I’m referring to the weather at the time of drinking as opposed to the weather at the time of grape growing).

     And this is a factor, as far as I know, that receives no consideration whatsoever from the majority of wine experts and consumers. The influence is not so much connected with temperature but to do with humidity, air pressure systems and, particularly here in the tropics, cyclonic activity affecting a wine. Although there’s no real scientific evidence, or wine theory to quote, in order to back up this claim, I have a personal theory. Whilst tasting wine in this climatically defined island, I’ve made two observations with which fellow wine tasters have concurred. Firstly, when there’s a high-pressure system, that is to say the sun is out and the sky is blue, every wine’s aroma and taste seems to be lifted and more noticeable. And, secondly, cloudy and thundery low-pressure conditions noticeably numb the wine. Every wine. Even ‘big’ wines, like brawny tannic red wines and taut un-wooded white wines, will taste less well-defined and flat.

     Now the questions I can hear many of you asking are: “Can weather fronts genuinely have any affect on the smell and taste of wine? Or are these affects within the taster, rather than the wine?” A very difficult question to answer because, like it or not, we are all affected by the weather. Lack of sunlight is now a recognized cause of depression in people. Thunderous conditions can make us feel tense and nervous, people often comment at such times that it, “needs some rain to clear the air.” So it could easily be argued that our mood, at the time of consuming a wine, will affect our enjoyment of it (negatively so if the weather is bad and positively so when it’s good). I expect we have all experienced this kind of weather-dominated state of mind, clouding (no pun intended) our judgments of nearly everything we encounter on glorious days, and vice-versa. In other words, our disposition, our mood, may create chemical conditions in the body that may alter the way that we taste wines.

     There’s no doubt that air pressure affects wine. British Airways, amongst other airlines, selects wine on the basis that certain examples have beneficial characteristics, like a more obvious fruitiness, which helps them to be expressive and fluent six miles high (and in a pressurized cabin). Of course, it also makes sense to allow for the taster’s senses being lessened from the lack of oxygen, stale air and dehydration, causing the throat to be less receptive to a wine’s subtle nuances. Interestingly, this may also explain why most airline food, no matter how hard their chefs try, rarely tastes of anything.

      Back on the ground, there may not be any conclusive, logical or scientific reason why a wine opened in warm weather should taste any different to one opened when it’s raining. My suspicion is that wine is possibly affected by weather conditions, but to a very small degree, with air pressure being the most profound agent of change. The majority of the perceived differences are within the mind and body of the drinker. Our disposition is a powerful thing – one’s brain can play tricks, particularly on our senses. Add to that our nose works differently in warm dry conditions compared to when it’s damp and thundery (or cold and crisp). And it’s exactly these kinds of psychological and physiological inconsistencies that make humans less scientific than they perhaps wish. Further muddying the waters, and rather oddly (wine is an illogical and emotive subject after all) often heightened by the alcohol within it. I love how a quirky wine, that many others don’t care for, can sometimes irrationally besot you (why is it every man thinks his wife is the most beautiful woman in the world?).

       Finally, all this talk about wine and weather reminds me of one of my favourite wine quotes: ‘A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine, but at least on a rainy day you can still enjoy drinking wine’. Although I have no idea who said it, I share their sentiments exactly. Wine makes us happy, we can all agree on that, whatever the weather.

 

 

Peter James

Wine Guru



 


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