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Sep 6, 2011 09:01 PM

cooked wine experiment

So I have picked a couple of bottles of same make and year pinot to try. I don't want to actually cook the wine but get a feel for difference heat affects the taste. My control bottle is laying low in its dark cocoon. My plan for the heated bottle is to leave it in my west facing garage for a day, and another for 2 days.Heat but not light. Will one day be enough? I don't realy want to wast more than2 bottles on this home science project.
Any ideas?

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  1. i'd move a thermometer into the garage so that you can track exactly how high the temp gets and for how long.

    2 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      got it.on a timer. Usually upper 90s from 3pm until sundown

      1. re: budnball

        since the UPS trucks sit out all night and day, they probably get hotter sooner.
        fedex, otoh, using white trucks probably stay a little cooler than UPS.

    2. wines exposed to excessive heat do not always show the full extent of damage right away. the damage builds over time depending on the amount of heat, the duration and the wine itself. if you drink the heat damaged wine a day or two, or even a week or two, after exposure to heat you will not experience the full damage and you may not even detect the damage at all.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jock

        Agreed. The OP's time frame may not be long enough for "cooking" to happen. There will be a small effect, though it might not even be perceptible, from high heat for a short duration.

      2. Hi, budnball:

        Unless you *know* your control bottle hasn't been subjected to a like kind/degree of cooking, all you're likely to discover is the effect of a day (or two) of additional heat damage.

        Also, I'd lay your "damaged" bottle (clearly marked) down alongside your "undamaged" one and leave them be for 6 months to a year. Then taste--and look--closely.

        Please report your results.


        15 Replies
        1. re: kaleokahu

          So, a couple days exposure will not likely show any problems, I'm not likely to notice if the wine is drunk within a few weeks or even a month, and I should wait 6 months to a year. This is the kind of stuff that drives me crazy with wine info. There is no OBJECTIVE information! People harp that wine shipped any distance will be damaged and that only plebs could not tell the difference between good wine and corked / cooked juice. That real palates can sniff out problems from across the room with freshly opened bottles. WTF?
          The more I read the Less I believe.

          1. re: budnball

            will you be the only one doing the taste test at the end?

            also, kaleckahu makes and accurate and excellent point., if you use wine that has been shipped to you or wine that comes from BevMo it could well be cooked even before you start your experiment.

            1. re: budnball

              This all goes back to what I believe is that much of all this "corked/cooked/tainted" thing is inextricably connected to the palate sensitivity and knowledge/experience of the taster. All of the things discussed here DO happen to wine....... BUT, I believe, it's like a tree falling in the forest. If the taster is not able to distinguish the flaw the fact that it's there is not relevant to that taster.

              "Objective" information is available on TCA, for example, that can tell us what parts-per-million the TCA is in that tainted wine........ but some tasters have far lower thresholds of recognition for it than others. Others taste "something", but can't distinguish the difference well enough to know they're experiencing TCA and not just the way that wine happens to smell and taste............. unless the parts-per-million is over their personal threshold.

              Also, I think there may be some confusion above between the effect of extreme heat on wine with regard to whether that effect is apparent immediately or not. I'd suggest that there's a difference between wine that has been so "cooked" that it immediately tastes bad and wine that has been overheated and will then mature much more quickly so that it goes "bad" much sooner than you would expect. The experiment in your garage may produce the first case quickly, but the second wouldn't be noticeable right away.

              In my experience most people have relatively high thresholds for wine faults, probably due to the wide variations in how different wines smell and taste to begin with, and also due to lack of experience in picking out the flaws themselves......... except when they are extremely obvious.

              Just my 2¢.

              1. re: Midlife

                i don not have a temperature controlled wine fridge. (no space/room for one)
                i can tell you for sure, that the percentage of bottles of wine that i discard for tasting "cooked" has gone down dramatically since i started leaving my air conditioning on all summer long.

                one abysmal evening, i ended up pouring a whole mixed case of wine down the drain. (tried it bottle by bottle)
                i learned my lesson.
                have spent more money on electricity for the air conditioning, but have saved money because of the wine preservation.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  I feel for you and for your palate. I am only saying what I know to be true after several years operating a retail wine shop and tasting bar.......... that lots and lots of people do not recognize flaws as flaws.

                  I've also had lots of back-up to the premise that prolonged higher temps can cause 'premature maturation' in wine. I've also done a photo shoot where we lost several high-end bottles because they were out in the hot sun for just a few hours....... to the point where the corks 'partially ejected' and the bottles leaked. That was immediate damage but not all the bottles tasted flawed after the wine cooled down........... at least not to me or my group that day.

                  But I do sometimes joke that I don't really envy people with sensitive and highly trained palates because I think the rest of us get to enjoy much more wine than they do. ;o))))

                  1. re: Midlife

                    But I do sometimes joke that I don't really envy people with sensitive and highly trained palates because I think the rest of us get to enjoy much more wine than they do. ;o))))

                    Now this makes more sense to me than most things I have read here. Thanx for an alternate view!

              2. re: budnball

                Hi, budnball:

                I sympathize with your frustration over the lack of "objective wine info". I've railed against that myself in different areas. In regard to your OP and this thread, I'd change that to "hard and fast rules". Unfortunately, wine rarely behaves the easy ways we want it to. There is high variability, and IMO we are just beginning to really understand wine chemically.

                I suggested waiting 6 months to a year because heat damage isn't always immediately apparent (and you don't have cases to devote to your experiment). But it might be apparent right away. What would your 2-bottle experiment prove if the damage was there, but took a year (or more) to discern?

                Depending on your wine, it might NEVER be apparent. I once bought my parents a bottle of 1985 Louis Martini Coastal Cabernet probably sometime around 1987. They abused the s@#t out of that bottle, and never opened it (being too nice to drink). It stood *upright* in an unheated/uninsulated garage until 2 years ago (23 years!). When I opened it, the cork crumbled and I was about to pour it out, but I couldn't do it without tasting it. It was, miraculously, FINE.

                Waiting a bit just increases the odds that IF it is damaged, it will be noticeable to you. That's what you want to know, right?

                Still, I urge you to focus more *on the wine* and perhaps less on the lack of objective truths. In fact, view with cynicism any pontifications as to what those "truths" might be. It is--after all--ultimately a private matter between you and what's in the bottle.

                Have fun,

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  After placing the heated bottles back in the closet, and letting them return to 65degrees, my husband opened them out of my sight and marked glasses. My wine is Foursight Pinot 2008. Of course I could not detect anything different about the bottles. All the bottles came from a case shipped by truck from The Anderson Valley within a week after I ordered it.

                  My main frustration comes down to this.
                  There seems to be no clear cut way to tell bad wine poured into a bottle from wine that was damaged in the bottle. or at least, no way to explain it to a layman.

                  1. re: budnball

                    "<There seems to be no clear cut way to tell bad wine poured into a bottle from wine that was damaged in the bottle. or at least, no way to explain it to a layman.">

                    I'd have to say that is likely because most of what that can go bad with a wine after it's IN the bottle can also go bad BEFORE it gets in.

                    As far as "cooking" is concerned, it's been stated above that one thing that can happen is that the wine will simply mature faster.............. which means it won't go 'bad' at all, it just goes through it's natural changes sooner. If the wine gets SO hot that it gets all jammy (almost as in cooking it in a pan a la a wine reduction) it will taste like an exaggerated, fruity, almost "late-harvest" type wine ...... which you wouldn't necessarily notice as "bad". Anyway....... the temps you describe would almost certainly produce the former situation rather than the latter, if it had any impact at all.

                2. re: budnball

                  I share your skepticism on the sanctity of the temperature chain - I doubt any retail trade could occur if "optimal" conditions were truly followed. I would love to read an audit of the actual storage conditions along all steps of the chain producer to shipper to distributor.....

                  To answer your question more directly however, there is some rationale for believing increased temperatures will accelerate all sorts of reactions. The broad ideas are well summarized in the link below. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of his estimates, but the broad chemical principles he invokes are relatively accurate.


                    1. re: budnball

                      >>> There is no OBJECTIVE information! <<<

                      Of course not! How many times have I said there is NO OBJECTIVE, ONLY SUBJECTIVE when it comes to wine and taste? You are dealing with your five senses, and most specifically with the sense of taste and smell -- and just as one person will add salt at the table to their __________ (it needs salt), and another will not (it's salty enough) . . . just as one person will take their __________ and add Tabasco, while another will feel it's best without it . . . just as one person will love durian, and another will avoid it like the plague . . . .

                      So, too, will one person find this wine too hot, too high in VA, too oaky, too tannic, too cloying, too acidic, etc., etc., so will another individual find the wine not to show any heat, too have little or no VA, that the oak is perfectly in balance, to have just the right balance of sugar and acidity, etc., etc., etc.

                      In part, you are looking for black-and-white answers in a part of life where no (or very little) such clarity exists.

                      Even with TCA -- human beings are sensitive to TCA in parts per *billion*, and yet there are debates among wine judges whether Glass 7935 is corked or not.

                      Your experiment on paper is a good idea, but the parameters are not accurate. The temperatures need to be higher; the exposure longer (as others have said). But AGAIN, some people will be able to detect the "damage" and others will not . . . now, clearly, if the wine is maderized, yes -- hopefully -- everyone will be able to tell, but that's an extreme example. Most cooked wines are not maderized, not so obvious.

                      a) Temperatures inside a UPS truck are higher than 90°, plus it can take anywhere from 5-10 days to travel UPS/FedEx GROUND coast-to-coast.

                      b) Let me ask you this: IF it makes no difference, why are there so many wineries that will refuse to ship their wines direct to customers at certain months of the year?

                      c) Elsewhere on this site, I related the story of the container of 1995 Burgundy we imported from Marseille, France to Oakland, California that was improperly set to 20-22° Celcius rather than 10-12° . . . that's 68-72° Fahrenheit, rather than 50-54° -- doesn't seem like much, does it? And yet the wines were damaged by the heat, the insurance company paid the claim, and the wines were destroyed.

                      d) Let me ask you this: is it not better to "play it safe than sorry"?

                      e) The sooner (younger) you drink a wine, the less chance you will 1) have a wine that's been heat damaged, and 2) be able to detect that damage. It takes time for the damage to a wine that's caused by heat to develop and show in any particular bottle of wine. This is especially true when the damage is less pronounced, more subtle (think temperatures in the 80s and 90s, rather than >100°). But I *also* think that part of the problem here is the TYPE of wine(s) being discussed . . . this is true whenever you have a "mixed group" discussing WINE, as if it were a monolithic "whole." There are some people on Chowhound that are eager to find the latest, hottest, greatest <$10 bottle at Trader Joe's, while others here may be seeking to discover what 2010 Bordeaux they should buy on futures, and there are certainly a lot of people in between . . . the temperature inside of a UPS/FedEx/common carrier/ocean-going container are a LOT more concerning to *me* when I'm purchasing a wine for my cellar than if I were picking up a bottle of <$10 White Zin to take to frat party!

                      f) Now, I can only speak for myself, but I've never said that I or other "real palates can sniff out problems from across the room with freshly opened bottles" -- certainly not when it comes to temperature issue, to a wine being cooked. But there have certainly been times when, setting up for a trade tasting, I've opened up a bottle, and I can smell a problem the moment the cork is removed, even though the bottle is sitting on the table -- the TCA has been that pronounced -- but cooked? even maderized? I cannot smell that from across the room . . . never met anyone who could.

                      g) I have let to see/find/discover/remember any problem and/or contradictory information that you've received (though let me quickly add I have not gone back and read every single post of every single thread that you've participated in on the subject) regarding the threat, the potential damage that heat can cause to a bottle of wine. Indeed, I don't see an issue . . .



                      1. re: zin1953

                        <One will never know.

                        In several restaurants, a waiter has passed behind me, with several glasses of wine. I have called them back, before delivering the tray, and pointed out that X glass was corked, and need to be replaced. I am very sensitive to TCA, and can often detect tiny parts, across a "crowded room."


                        And while I know this is not you Jason, It is This attitude. If there is no Objective answers then why harp so on individual wine shops as the only way to buy wine? If there are no objective answers, then allow for he possibilty that your Burgundy was already bad wine. People who are buying wine from clubs are not setting down for ten years. Your agenda seems to be that there is only one way to correctly purchase wine. Mine is that there are many ways. I am not looking to hold bottles for years or have a great collection. I am buying wine that is ready to drink right now! The Frat party crack is beneath you.

                        1. re: budnball

                          Several thoughts . . .

                          >>> The Frat party crack is beneath you. <<<

                          Oh, that's simple: I can't thing of the last time I spent less than $10 for a bottle of wine -- let alone a bottle of White Zin -- and I was trying to think of an occasion where a lot of White Zin would be consumed. That was the only thing that came to mind. (Remember, I live right next to UC Berkeley, and all the frats are recruiting new members now!) No offense was intended -- whereas if I had said something about, for example, had I made a comment about buying at TJ's, I have no doubt I would have offended a great number of people.

                          >>> If there is no Objective answers then why harp so on individual wine shops as the only way to buy wine? <<<

                          When have I *ever* said there is "only (one) way to buy wine"?

                          There are several answers here, depending upon specifics. Speaking (again) only for myself, I generally buy from a handful of select retailers. Kermit Lynch is one, and they import their wines in working reefers, their warehouse is temperature controlled, and I go into their store and buy . . . North Berkeley? Same thing (mostly). Paul Marcus Wines in Rockridge (Oakland) buys from small importers who also *only* ship in reefers, etc., etc. There is *one* online retailer I buy from, and -- again -- I know how they buy their wines, and who from.

                          Now, is that the ONLY way to buy wine? Of course not. Have I EVER said that if you buy wine a different way it is guaranteed to SUCK?!?!?!?! I don't think so . . . Millions of people buy wine from supermarkets, Trader Joe's, in their local 7-11, and on and on and on -- and are perfectly happy/content doing so. There are also countless people who love "Two Buck Chuck" and Sutter Home White Zin -- that's fine! Honest! But I'd rather pass; they do not appeal to my taste -- and that's fine, too.

                          >>> If there are no objective answers, then allow for (t)he possibilty that your Burgundy was already bad wine. <<<

                          I'm not sure I completely understand your point. Regardless of how careful one is -- let's say I fly to Vosne-Romanée, go directly to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, personally hand-carry the wine back with me . . . the wine can STILL be bad -- it might be corked, for example. But does it not make sense to take steps to MINIMIZE the POTENTIAL for bad wine(s) by taking certain steps (or not taking others)?

                          >>> People who are buying wine from clubs are not setting down for ten years. <<<

                          Um, again, I'm not sure I understand you. Are you saying that people who buy wine from a winery's wine club are not acquiring wines for their cellar, and that every bottle they buy will be open within a year or two? certainly within 10 years? And you know this how? FWIW, this does not fit in with my experience . . . I know plenty of people who signed up for the wine club at wineries I worked at, and/or wineries friends of mine own/work at, who put their wines in the cellar to age. Again, no one size fits all.

                          >>> Your agenda seems to be that there is only one way to correctly purchase wine. Mine is that there are many ways. <<<

                          Again, I've NEVER said "there is only one way to CORRECTLY" -- whatever that means -- "purchase wine." (See above.) Of course there are many ways -- who has ever said there isn't? That's like saying you can only buy wines -- or the only wines worth buying -- that Parker has rated 95 points or above, and lord knows THAT'S nothing I believe . . . .

                          If you honestly think that's my "agenda," I would respectfully suggest you have misunderstood almost everything I've ever said. My only "agenda" -- if I indeed have one -- is to help people find the wines they like, and to give them the "tools" necessary to do that for themselves.

                          And that's true whether someone is looking for a bottle they can lay down and open when their newborn baby turns 21, or whether they're seeking a wine to have with the pizza that's being delivered later tonight.