15 Sep 2023
 | 15 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

600 years of wine must quality and April to August temperatures in Western Europe 1420–2019

Christian Pfister, Stefan Brönnimann, Andres Altwegg, Rudolf Brázdil, Laurent Litzenburger, Daniele Lorusso, and Thomas Pliemon

Abstract. This study investigates the validity of wine must quality as a summer (JJA) temperature proxy between 1420 and 2019 based on expert ratings and quality measurements from Germany, Luxembourg, Eastern France and the Swiss Plateau. The evidence was reviewed according to the best practice of historical climatology. Expert ratings tended to agree with Oechsle density measurements that gradually replaced them from the 1840s. A statistical model calibrated to predict wine must quality from climate data explains 75 % of the variance, underlining the potential value of wine must quality as a climate proxy. Premium crops were collected in years of early harvest involving high insolation during maturation while poor crops resulted from very late harvests in cold and wet summers. An analysis of daily weather types for high and low-quality years after 1763 shows marked differences. On a decadal timescale, average quality was highest from 1470 to 1479, from 1536 to 1545 and from 1945 to 1954. Poor crops were collected in prevailing cold and wet summers such as 1453 to 1466, 1485 to 1494, 1585 to 1614, 1685 to 1703, 1812 to 1821 and 1876 to 1936. In the period of enhanced warming after 1990, high qualities became the rule.

Christian Pfister et al.

Status: open (until 24 Nov 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on cp-2023-66', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Sep 2023 reply

Christian Pfister et al.

Data sets

Wine must qualities DE, LU, FR, CH 1420-2019 Christian Pfister and Stefan Brönnimann

Christian Pfister et al.


Total article views: 226 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
167 51 8 226 7 5
  • HTML: 167
  • PDF: 51
  • XML: 8
  • Total: 226
  • BibTeX: 7
  • EndNote: 5
Views and downloads (calculated since 15 Sep 2023)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 15 Sep 2023)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 219 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 219 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 04 Oct 2023
Short summary
This study examines the sugar content of wine must as an indicator of warm season temperatures since 1420. Winegrowers in Western Europe recorded it early on, as it mattered for the wine price. Their estimates agree well with measured sugar content, warm season temperatures and the frequency of large-scale weather events. Wine quality data go further back than grape harvest dates and complement them, notably in hot summers. After the warming since 1990, only good qualities were obtained.