Belgium winemaking is on the rise. Over the past 10 years, wine production in the country has quadrupled, while the quality of the final product is also increasing. This year, wine makers are expecting excellent results as well. Although the exceptionally hot summer has slightly impacted the production, the sun brings more benefits than not for Belgian wines.
The dry and hot summer has damaged some of the grapes, resulting in about 10% of the harvest to be lost, but the remaining fruits, which are expected to be harvested around 10 September, will be of superior quality and give better wines.
Today we have many more hours of sunshine than in the past. As a result, the grapes are of higher quality and winegrowers can make different types of wine.Lodewijk Waes, chairman of the non-profit organisation Belgian Wine Growers, told De Morgen
Unlike the usual rainy weather in Belgium, this summer has been very sunny. The sun dries up the fruits a little bit. The lower water level means the grapes have a higher sugar concentration. The fermentation process, essential in wine making, is facilitated by the sugar, resulting in a better tasting wine.
More sun also makes the skin of the grapes thicker, which giver the wine a better aroma. Moreover, short periods of rain instead of prolonged ones also contribute to an excellent harvest.
However, too much sun is harmful. Global warming is putting wine producers in traditional southern Europe destinations at risk. To compensate, vineyards are looking into grape varieties that are more resistant to extreme heat and drought, but this will of course change the characteristics of the wines. In particular, the higher sugar concentration could result in a final product with a higher alcohol content as well.
The heat makes it difficult in Spain and the south of France to grow grapes in a normal way. High temperatures result in a sugar explosion and alcohol percentages of 15 or 16%. There are techniques to reduce that percentage, but that also lowers the quality. You often get heavy, plump wines.Lodewijk Waes, chairman of the non-profit organisation Belgian Wine Growers
While global warming could be devastating for traditional wine regions, The Brussels Times says that “in Belgium, conditions are increasingly optimal for wine production, making the country look more and more like Bordeaux.”