With summer days approaching the 100-degree mark, we’re all likely looking for a place to stay cool. Well, so are our wines. If you’ve been carrying any wine bottles in your car’s trunk or backseat, get them out of there.
Extreme heat hurts a wine more than anything – even more so than a bad review by Wine Spectator. Heat damaged wines are often referred to as cooked. The heat affects the wine’s chemistry causing oxidation and accelerated aging. These wines lose flavor and tannins and can even develop a taste similar to sherry. Another indicator of heat damage is color – where the wine takes on a premature brownish hue.
Heat will also make the contents of the bottle expand and push on the cork. With enough heat (and a car’s temperature over 120 degrees would be sufficient), the cork will actually push out. Losing your wine is bad enough, but car cleanup and residual odors are a fiasco.
So is your cooked wine bad? Probably, but not necessarily undrinkable. Put the heated bottles into a refrigerator as soon as possible and let them chill sufficiently. Then drink them right away.
We recommend during this hot summer to carry a cooler with ice packs in your car when heading to your wine store. That way, your wine is safe – and you have a chilled bottle ready for when you get home.
Barbara and Beverly