Does heat affect wine?

7 thoughts on “Does heat affect wine?”

  1. Mark Wickman says:

    Its about chemistry and corks. Apply heat to a wine and it catalyses a chemical reaction, changing the contents, accelerating the chemical process we like to extend over a decade or more in a cellar. You probably wouldn’t notice the change so soon but it may be apparent down the track when compared with a wine of impeccable provenance and no known heat exposure.

    Also, depending on how hot the bottle gets, the liquid could expand to the point where it pushes past the cork and momentarily breaks the seal, that will add oxygen into the mix and another chemical process will occur, a dribble of wine, not immediately apparent, may weep out as a telltale to anyone interested in looking closely at the capsule.

    I am not saying the wine won’t be drinkable (I have personally had some wonderful wines that were, by all indicators, supposed to be oxidised), but, in my experience, expose it to heat, open it down the track and it will definitely be different.

  2. Rob says:

    I have had the privilege of splitting cases with my brother, with my 6 bottles of red stored in very good stable cool conditions, and his in wildly fluctuating temperatures hitting 35 and above at times. Then he went to the UK and gave me his left over wines as compensation for looking after his affairs while he was away. So I had the chance to try several wines cellared for up to10 years, bought at same time, from same case, but stored in wildly varying conditions. Quality was good for both, but my brothers wines were clearly a few years advanced in maturity. I think this makes perfect sense as chemical reactions accelerate at higher temperatures. Additionally, I would expect more pressure is put on the cork and could affect oxidation etc. where an inferior cork is in place. Anyway, all wines were still of good quality regardless of cellaring. (Wines were the usual age-worthy suspects from Henschke, Moss Wood, Penfolds etc.)

  3. Andrew says:

    Interesting, yes very little is defined or commented on other than its very bad. Being in WA, heat is often on your mind. I have returned wine on one occasion. My delivery was held up for a month in transit (lost apparently) with the rail container from Melbourne sitting in an open WA freight yard for a week. All days over 35 degrees and one above 44 – when the 8 cases arrived they resembled a delivery of hot water bottles. I did not feel comfortable cellaring for 20 years and ending up with soup, so back they went.
    Thanks for putting some perspective around the issue.

  4. Steve Leslie says:

    Huon, living in WA I have experienced a number of episodes of cooked wine due to transport from the east coast over a hot period. Most recently I had a case of 2006 champagne, from a wholesaler I know uses temperature controlled containers to Australia, arrive over Xmas after a 2 week transit due to the busy period.
    Two bottles opened were dark gold, with stale fruit and a bitterness which made drinking uneasant. These were not corked, and it is a Grande Marque you and I visited last year as part of a 40
    Australian champagne award winners trip.
    Many suppliers routinely keep wine I have orded until autumn so they are not affected in transport.

    Steve Leslie

  5. Owen Inglis says:

    I have been exporting wine to Asia for many years and as a “minimum” always recommend to our buyers that we export using a thermal foil wrap for either the pallet or container that we ship in. Better still is refrigerated containers , but there is a cost of course for everything and in the majority of sales the shipping decision is that of the buyer
    Problem with heat damage is that the change in the wine often takes up to six months so may not be evident immediately , and any heat stress test really should be carried out 9 months after the heat event.
    The rapidity that temperature increases is also a major factor. If the temperature jumps from 20 deg to 34 deg quickly and stays there for a day or so there is a good chance the wine will suffer heat shock.
    If the temperature slowly increases it seems that the wine can survive for a much longer period at the mid 30 deg mark , which is one reason the foil insulation when shipping seems to help.
    If the temperature hits 50 deg C+ which of course the inside of an unprotected container sitting on the dock in Singapore or Jakarta for three days will , then of course the wine is finished , and often explains why the quality wine you have just paid $100 for in an Asian restaurant tear’s your head off.
    So heat shock while difficult to be specific seems to me to be a factor of , maximum temperature the wine has been exposed to , duration of the high temperature and rapidity of the temperature change.

  6. Tyrone says:

    Two years ago I bought six bottles of Peter Lehman Margaret Semillon 2008, screwcaps, from a specialist wine retailer, delivered to my door. At the time I tasted one bottle which was delicious and fresh. Six months later I bought three bottles of the same wine from one of the large walk-in liquor retailers. By accident I happened to store them in different parts of my cellar, thus I could later tell the origin of each group. The cellar is climate-controlled. Since then it has turned out that all three of the bottles bought from the large walk-in retailer have been tainted; each was prematurely aged, with an acrid burnt toast aftertaste, and I ended up pouring out the bottles. All of the bottles opened so far from the first group, the specialist wine retailer, have all shown some maturity as expected including a slight initial toastiness, but all have been fresh and highly drinkable, with cellaring life still left. Something happened to the bottles stored in the big retailer, whether in transit or sitting on a shelf somewhere for six months. I have observed a similar effect some years ago through wines I had then stored in the dining room of my double-brick house in Sydney: many reds (e.g. Penfolds St Henri) and most whites (including age-worthy reislings and marsannes) were slightly acrid after 3+ years of “room temperature” storage.

  7. Des Houghton says:

    Very interesting Huon. While your keepers may be safe in the more temperate climate of Victoria, I know from hard experience you can’t store wine successfully in Queensland “under the stairs” or under the floorboards. Nowhere is safe, save a fridge.
    The ambient temperature in summer is simply too hot. Temperature variations can be extreme up here. I’ve seen many a collector arrive at dinner with that special bottle only to find it spoiled.

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