Short term wine storage: How warm is too warm?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Weather-wise this past week in Boston has been gorgeous. The high temperatures topped 80F yesterday and I started to get concerned about the boxes of wine I have sitting around that don't fit into my wine fridge. The room where I tend to keep wine got up to 76F yesterday afternoon so I decided to take the wine down to the basement where it's in the low 60Fs.

With quite a bit of wine in-flight across the country as spring shipping season is in full swing I've also been wondering whether those shipments might be exposed to more heat than we'd like.

It got me thinking I might be overreacting a bit.

The wine sitting on a retailer's shelf has, in some cases, been through much worse. Who knows what weather that wine was subject to when it was shipped? And how long as it been sitting on the retailer's shelf in a room that's usually air conditioned but likely hits the mid-70Fs during the warmer months?

And what about my friends who live in warmer climates? Wines stored on the counter spend most of their life in the high 70Fs. How long until those wines are spent?

I know first hand how extreme heat can destroy wine. When we were moving from Arizona to Massachusetts a few years back I had a couple boxes of wine in the $30-$60/bottle range. It wasn't enough to warrant exploring separate climate controlled transport - or so I thought - so I just shipped it with the rest of our household goods. The wine was totally cooked. Some wine seeped out of the corks as I could see on the capsules. The wine tasted lifeless; like stewed vegetables. After popping 2 or 3 spoiled Sterling SVRs (that blew me away at the winery) I was thirsting for anything fresh and clean. Anything!

So, for short term storage, how critical is it to keep wine cool? Here's Wine Spectator's Dr. Vinny weighing in on a similar question:

Is it OK that a bottle of wine was exposed to a temperature of 70-75 degrees for 24 hours? Answer: http://bit.ly/GH5HXo
My take is that I'm comfortable keeping wine in the mid-70Fs for a month or two. But if it's going to be longer than that I'd seek out some way to keep the wine cooler. Especially for nicer bottles that merit mid-term aging. Fridge Freezer Direct provides many different wine coolers from major brands such as Blizzard, LEC and Infrico.

Question of the Day: What's your take on this?

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