Wine and Heat – Eternal Enemies

Heat is to wine like water is to oil…they just don’t mix. In fact, once the juice is in the bottle there is nothing one can do that is more detrimental to the long term health of the wine, than expose it to extended periods of long heat. When a wine is exposed to high temperatures in transit or storage, the liquid expands and several things may happen. It may force the cork from the neck of the bottle, pushing it up under the capsule. This is called a “pushed” or “raised” cork. Or the wine may expand and leak around the cork. This is called a “leaker.”

In either case, when the liquid cools it will contract, and this may result in air seeping in around the cork leading to a further problem, oxidation. Cooked wines won’t have any freshness to the fruit aromas or flavors – instead you’ll get a stewed, prune-like profile. If you’re getting blackcurrants and fresh summer fruits, for example, then you haven’t got a cooked wine. On the palate, a cooked wine often seems thin, lacking body and character.

As an internet wine retailer, Wine.com is extremely cognizant of the perils of summer shipping, and we are doing our best to get you your wine to arrive in as pristine condition as possible. Here are a few safeguards to help keep your wine protected from the summer heat when ordering wine online from Wine.com, and after the wine has been delivered.

  • Be aware of the pending weather forecast in your region.
  • If the temperatures are going to be in excess of 75 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time, consider expediting your shipment from ground delivery to overnight or 2-day, or “hold until safe” at final review. For “hold until safe” we will store your wine at no additional charge in our temperature controlled warehouse and ship it when the weather cools. You can also choose a delivery date up to six months out and we’ll store your wine free of charge until then. Think about the inside of your car at these elevated temperatures…that is what your wine is being exposed to in the back of a UPS/FedEx truck.
  • Once you’ve received your shipment it’s best to store your wine on its side, so the cork stays moist, in a cool dark place. If wine is kept too hot, or exposed to strong sunlight, it RAPIDLY deteriorates.
  • For bottles stored more than a few weeks at a time, the primary concern is to keep them from strong direct light, and to ensure that they do not reach extended periods of time at temperatures in excess of 77 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point the wine may be spoilt and forever afterwards taste cooked.

About Gregg

Gregg Stephenson has been the Fine Wine Specialist/Collector Concierge at Wine.com since 2009. In total he has been in Fine Wine sales for over 5 years. Initially drawn to wine by his passion for food, cooking, and entertaining, Gregg parlayed his new hobby to a profession. He has his Sommelier Certification with The Court of Master Sommeliers and is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) with The Society of Wine Educators. An avid collector since the mid-nineties, his home cellar boasts 1,800+ bottles from wines around the world, of which roughly 75% are from the Old World (France, Italy, Spain, and Germany). Gregg tries to taste as often as possible and LOVES the open minded wine enthusiasts!!!
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