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wine cooked??damaged?

hi all. i bought some wine online (woot)..i tracked my package...been sitting in a fedex truck since sat. Sunday was 85 degrees (Los angeles had a nice little heat wave in the middle of december!)...was to be delivered yesterday (monday) but they were delayed for some reason and wont be delivered until today. yesterday was 80 degrees. safe to assume my wine will be heat damaged/cooked???

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  1. pretty safe assumption i'm afraid.

    1. No, it's not safe to assume. Open it and taste with an open mind.

      There is a thread here somewhere from a very knowledgeable source who had a large number of bottles subjected to 3 years of un-airconditioned interior storage in New Orleans (why, I don't know). The gist of the thread was that a surprisingly high % of the bottles were just fine. And that a few had improved over the same wine that was cellared properly.

      Want to have some fun? Watch what happens with wine at the supermarkets' and wine distributors' loading docks. Or with the semi rigs, shipping containers and boxcars in the yards.

      If, after tasting, your bottle WAS cooked, ask for a refund, but don't assume the worst.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        beg to differ. mild heat damage often does not show up to the point of real unpleasantness right away. that assumes the taster really knows what he is looking for and most people do not.

        i have been a wine collector for 50 years and lived in arizona all that time. i can assure you i have had more than my share of cooked wine and i am not even sure i can detect damage immediately after it occurs.

        wine that is subjected to 80+ degrees for 72 hours is in my opinion virtually certain to have been damaged. a closed truck is likely to be warmer inside than the air outside. if the wine is to be cellared lotsa luck making any claim in 5-10-15-20 years. if you can get the wine replaced - do it (assuming they do not simply ship the same wine back or send someone elses damaged wine) if not i would counsel drinking the wine sooner rather than lated.

        1. re: jock

          jock: The OP said nothing about collecting, let alone cellaring for 20 years. Nor did s/he say what the investment was. Unless this was a $$ bottle that was purchased with the intent to lay it down, s/he should just open it and try it before FedEx and the seller "forget" about everything.

      2. I don't think you can say anything for sure. I live in Davis CA, in the Central Valley
        heat. I have had missed wine club deliveries for up to 3 days in May, and I expected the wine
        would have suffered a lot. It didn't. I should mention that it involved 3 to 6 bottles each
        time, and I am not a long term collector and tend to drink wine within 2 to 3
        years of buying it. Also, I have noticed that UPS trucks tend to target the 5-8pm time slot
        for wine deliveries, so I am far from certain the truck's contents are in extreme heat all day long.

        1. I would not assume anything.

          1. New wine that you are going to be drinking in the next year or two is likely not going to be damaged enough for you to tell. That is why many companies ship all year round (even in heat). If *new* wine is actually "cooked"- you will know upon tasting it. However- If you ordered an expensive aged wine from an auction house (they are fragile) or an expensive wine to age (yourself) over many years...you WILL have a problem! That is why reputable auction houses don't ship in hot seasons.Heat interrupts the natural aging process and it will likely taste "off".

            1. thanks Everyone. it was two bottles of the 2003 Corison Napa Valley Cab. Was planning on drinking one soon and holding the 2nd bottle for 3-4 years.

              1 Reply
              1. I'd call or email Cathy Corison at the winery, and give her a heads-up that this is the way her wine shipments are being treated. 707.963.0826 or cathy@corison.com

                1 Reply
                1. re: maria lorraine

                  Before you waste anyone's--least of all the winemaker's--time, TASTE it.

                  After re-reading the OP, it's curious how he knows his bottles were stuck in an enclosed vehicle in the hot sun over a weekend. No tracking I've ever done gives any information beyond the times in-out at the various locations. Also, it sounds like the delivery took as few as 5 days, which may be what he chose to pay for. Was it contracted to be expedited? Did the seller offer coolpacks?

                  If it's cooked, THEN raise Hell, not before.

                2. A wine seller (not a winery) in Bordeaux once told me that it wasn't the heat that would damage wines, per se, but rather rapid changes in temperature. Don't know if that's true and would actually love to hear your opinions about this statement. The seller had an interest in selling me a few cases for probably non-refrigerated shipment back to NYC.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: michelleats

                    Yes, I know a number of people who believe that. I've also heard claims that sediment in large pieces is a warning sign (suggests sudden shock) and fine sediment is an indication of soundness.

                    As far as the New Orleans story--that's extreme, but in my experience in tasting older cellars (many back to the 60s and 70s, a few even older), not moving wine around is at least as important as temperature. I've had better bottles stored naturally in cellars that fluctuated from the 50s to 60s, but didn't move, than ones that were stored "optimally" but moved around a lot.

                    1. re: michelleats

                      michelleats; Here's my opinion. I think there is a general truth in what you were told. I would put it this way: Within certain relatively wide limits, temperature per se will not damage wine that is to be drunk early in its theoretical lifespan. But rapid changes in temperature within even smaller ranges will cause exceptionally strong pressure variations within the bottle. These changes can result in gas (and sometimes liquid) exchange between the "sealed" bottle and the outside world. Climate, weather and the mistakes of man being what they are, these changes tend to be cyclical. The challenge in cellaring before the advent of refrigeration was not so much to maintain steady ideal temperatures as to moderate the fluctuations.

                      So personally I would rather have a cellar of wine that had taken a single, gradual frolic from 55F to 85F and slowly back again than one that had fast daily temperature variations between 45F and 65F. This is an over-generalization and I'm sure there are exceptions if we were to try to make this a global rule.

                      Where your merchant may have been cagey is that, temperature fluctuations in shipment can be rapid, cyclical AND extreme, so there may not be too much "per se" about it.

                      I do not find the New Orleans story especially extreme. In 2009, I found a bottle of 1985 Louis Martini Coastal Cabernet, which had been stored all those years by my parents UPRIGHT on a shelf in their insulated but unheated, separate garage (with a dirt floor) in Washington State. I estimate that the SEASONAL temperatures varied by as much as 70F, but the daily variations inside were quite small. I kept the bottle out of fondness for them when they passed away. When I opened and tasted it. I was elated to discover that it was completely drinkable. Go figure.

                    2. A lot depends on the storage temps, and the insulation of the package. If it's been in a cool warehouse for that time, with those temps, all is probably good. If your wine has been gathering miles in the back of a truck, well, who knows?

                      When you get it, check the corks and capsules. Are the corks pushed out of the bottle? Are the capsules distended? Is there any leakage? These can signal problems.

                      I live in AZ, and try to spread all wine shipments around hot weather, but sometimes we all get fooled, and sometimes a producer in another part of the world has no clue, what weather in AZ can be. I have still only had a very few bottles, that were damaged.

                      If you detect any damage, I hope that your wine was not one, that you planned on sticking in the cellar for 20 years. Drink it then, and if there are problems, contact the winery, seller.

                      Good luck,