Almost the entire country is hit with a record setting heat wave and scientists predict heat waves like this one will become more commonplace in the coming years.
Red wine is probably the last thing on your mind during bouts of weather like this. Beware! Heat is a wine killer. Temperatures over 70 degrees for a significant amount of time can permanently taint the flavor of wine. Above 80 degrees or so and you are literally starting to cook the wine. Wine heat damage tastes unpleasantly sour and jammy…sort of like canned prunes. Heat can also compromise the seal of the bottle, leading to oxidization problems.
How to Prevent Wine Heat Damage
Don’t Leave Wine in Your Car
This is one of the most common scenarios: You run to the store to grab a couple of items for a dinner party. You don’t buy any frozen goods, so you think nothing of running a couple of errands afterwards.
Your car (especially your trunk) can reach well above 100° Fahrenheit on an average summer day. Wine will start to cook above 90° Fahrenheit. Treat your wine like a basket of fresh berries or a quart of ice cream. Precious!
- Put wine in the passenger compartment with you
- Make a wine purchase / pick up the last stop and go directly home
- If you’re on a wine tasting, carry your purchases into the next winery or restaurant
Your Wine Could Be Damaged Even Before You Get It
If a store is hot or muggy inside, their wine is not worth buying. Furthermore, how stores receive and handle their deliveries can greatly impact the items shelf life and quality. If your regular store receives packed pallets of wine and leaves them in the sun for several minutes, the heat can stay trapped in the stretch wrap and cardboard boxes for hours…slow cooking the wine even after it is warehoused. During extreme temperatures, shop from stores that have protected receiving docks or have streamlined their open-air receiving.
Here are some precautions for shopping for wine online:
- Don’t be thrifty with ground shipping during temperature extremes.
- Read wine retailer’s shipping options, sometimes they will hold your wine until the weather improves.
- Buy wine in units of six or more.
- Styrofoam wine shippers are not the devil.
Even Your House Could Be Too Warm
When the heat is really on, the temperature inside most residences with air conditioning can rise to the low to mid 70’s. The temperature in those without AC can skyrocket. Wild temperature fluctuations can damage wine too.
- Store wine in your cellar or basement.
- Keep your wine in the fridge if you don’t have a cellar.
- Avoid putting your wine close to windows or on top of the fridge
- Don’t put wine in an attic or garage as these spaces tend to trap and magnify heat and cool way down at night.
Patio Dining in The Sun
Dining outdoors can be one of the most enjoyable parts of summer. Even during a heatwave, sitting poolside with a glass is a great way to waste the day away. Leave your wine indoors though since the dark glass of the bottle can act like a lens, cooking the wine with a laser of sunshine. The extra trips to and from the kitchen will pay off with a more drinkable, cooler, more refreshing wine.