The urban legend tells that altitude improves wine and souls, creating a quick drunkenness. Skiing, and the mountain in general, is a privileged place to share with friends, family or lovers.Apart from the discussions around the ski, wine always comes back on the table... wine with cheese, little mulled wine on the slopes.... Hmmm, we love it, we share it, we taste it... in moderation. But when the first symptoms of drunkenness arrive at the first glass, the legend "wine and altitude" always ends up showing the end of its dress. So, myth or reality?
Today, no scientific study proves that altitude makes you drunk faster. However, we can't deny that the more we climb in the mountains, the rarer the air is. Therefore, the scarcity of oxygen would make the effects of wine on the body faster and more euphoric.
Myth or reality? Reality without scientific proof.
The answer, as for it, is more easily provable. Several experiments have been carried out in order to find out the effects of wine conservation at altitude. Studies on various tastings show that the wine is influenced on its conservation at altitude.
Bonification of the wine: yes.
To find out, sommeliers have conducted a double tasting of the same properties. During the first tasting, the wine had been kept in the cellar at plain level while the second was carried out at mountain level at about 1,500 metres. The results were astonishing on both the still reds and the champagnes. The wines tasted at altitude proved to be sweeter, denser and more harmoniously complex. Let us conclude that the decrease in oxygenation of the wines as well as that of the carbon dioxide in the air at altitude favours a better conservation of the wines which develop more slowly.
Be careful, the difference in tasting between the plain and the heights has no influence on the quality of the wine. A wine that is excellent in the mountains will also be very good on the plain, but will certainly express other character traits.
Myth or reality? Proven reality.
The answer is yes. We have noticed thanks to the CERVIM (Centre d'Etude, de Recherche et de valorisation de la Viticulture de Montagne - Centre for the Study, Research and Valorisation of Mountain Viticulture) that grape varieties grown in high mountains are less afraid of vine diseases. In addition, the orographic aspect (inclination, slope) forced mountain winegrowers to work manually, hence the emergence of many biodynamic and nature properties.
Moreover, who says mountain vineyards, says old and rare grape varieties that give for the most part tense and mineral wines, very enriching to discover.
To these questions, altitude and wines, bonification and drunkenness: myth or reality? We answer reality. So, we advise you to be careful with your alcohol consumption in the mountains. Don't forget that you are there mainly for the snow and skiing! So, enjoy the physical activities and the great outdoors! And when it's time for the raclette/artiflette/fondue trio and mulled wine, don't forget to consume in moderation!
Maureen (Les Grappes)