Wine Talk

Snooth User: Gantt Hickman


Posted by Gantt Hickman, Jul 25, 2011.

Hey guys,

I have a feeling I know the answer to this, but just wanted to get some expert advice on the situation. 

I recently ordered some wine from Italy while I was over there last.  They shipped it despite the heat wave we have going on, and I'm afraid some bottles are ruined.

I noticed three of my super tuscans were bleeding through the corks when they arrived.  I have put them in the coolest part of the my cooler to try and salvage them.

My question to you is: Are they salvagable? I will drink them while young if I have to, but wanted to lay them down for a few years. 

Would love to hear y'alls thoughts.



Reply by 1 jayjay, Jul 25, 2011.

Hi Gantt

i have had the same happen with some wines from france and found nothing wrong with them ,perhaps i was lucky !! i think that as long as Air has not found its way in they should be OK , i should start drinking the ones that seem the worst and perhaps think of recorking them , make sure they are well soaked so that they expand when driven into the bottle

i'm sure someone will have other ideas on this JJ

Reply by Mark Nichols, Jul 25, 2011.

Salvageable possibly, but laying them down may be dissapointing. JJ is correct, open one and see that the wine seems sound to you. The corks "bleed" or ullage is from the heated liquid expanding and pushing around the perimeter of the cork and through the capsule. This may be problematic depending on the length of time overheated, as the wine may have "cooked" slightly resulting in an "off" raisiny or pruney character. For maturing, you've lost at least a small amount of the volume of wine which will result in a "short fill" (oxygen in the bottle=premature aging) and possibly stained labels in subsequent inspections. None of this may be profound enough for you to taste the difference personally. If you're laying wine down for speculation, some buyer down the line will question these points. Wines are certainly a bargain at the vineyard but you should try to get someone "in the biz" to consolidate your purchases in their refrigerated "reefer" containers and pick them up at the wholesaler or port. Good luck, best in wine & life MN 

Reply by dmcker, Jul 25, 2011.

Without opening, it's hard to tell how damaged your wine may be. They could be relatively sound, or even cooked as much as 839741 mentions. I've had ullage not from temperature changes, but from pressurization fluctuations in wine shipped by plane. In that case the wines were fine, though I still wasn't tempted to lay them down as long as I might have, otherwise. I suggest you open and drink them sooner rather than later.

Reply by GregT, Jul 25, 2011.

First you need to figure out what the "bleeding" is about.  It may be because the corks were the wrong size.  People use smaller corks because they're easier to insert and then your wine is screwed but you never knew it when you put the bottles away.  Or it may be that there was some wine that splashed up when the corks were inserted - that's common and not a problem.

If it's because your wine got too hot and it really expanded that much, you're essentially screwed. Re-corking the wine won't make a difference and there's no need to either - your corks shouldn't be permanently damaged, but that doesn't mean the wine isn't.

On the other hand, you can keep in mind that sometimes wine is a lot more rugged than we think it is and if you knew what a lot of wine went through before it got to your table, you'd be amazed.  Waiting on docks and in uncooled trucks, sitting in unrefrigerated containers or shelves of stores at 70+ for weeks on end, etc. Try a bottle and see if it's off somehow. 

I went thru the same thing last week.  Out of the blue I got a call from Fed Ex that my wine was coming.  I asked for them to hold shipping until the weather was better and apparently they thought 99F was better than 87F so they kept if a few weeks and shipped on the cusp of our record-breaking heat wave. I arrived home to a door tag.  Went to the Fed Ex depot and asked to pick it up.  Not at that depot but they'd call in and make sure the other people held it for me (it's air conditioned).  Next day another door tag.  Why?  Well, sometimes the other depot doesn't get to all the messages until the packages are out.  So in the end it went thru several days of record-breaking heat for no reason at all.

Best of luck.

Reply by JonDerry, Jul 25, 2011.

Definitely have to agree with the consensus to try at least one of the wines in the shipment to see what it's like.

Good point about wine being more rugged than we think Greg.  I have virtually no passive storing that keeps below 70 degrees during summer, but the best I could find was a closed cupboard in my kitchen next to a window.  For some reason, our house is warmer than usual on the 5th floor so i've been concerned about a Mag that I had to store passively, which has been in the cupboard since last fall. It was express shipped direct from the winery so it's going to be a test of the passive storage almost exclusively.  Cracking it open for a friends rehearsal dinner this Thursday, so we'll see how it goes. 

Reply by Gantt Hickman, Jul 26, 2011.

Thanks guys,  I had a bottle last night and all seemed fine.  The good news is, while a couple bled the remaining wine is still within the neck of the bottle, so I have to think that it wasn't too much lost or too much oxygen coming in.  At least that is what I hope.  I am have a feeling I will drink these sooner rather than later thanks to y'alls advice.  This is definitely one thing I have never really experienced before.  I'll say I'm lucky considering all the wine I buy.


Reply by GregT, Jul 26, 2011.

The only thing to remember, esp for Jon, is that if you keep it for much above 65 for an extended period, you also speed up a lot of reactions you may not want.  I have about 12 cases that have simply been in the basement, not in the cellar. It's up to 70 some days and they've been there 2 years at this point. Most of the wine is still fine based on the bottles I occasionally open and drink, but if there's something like a brett problem, that really develops rapidly at higher temps.

Reply by JonDerry, Aug 2, 2011.

By the way, the Mag showed good for the most part.  Was an 07' Larkmead Firebelle, not quite as good as I remembered it though, maybe the haphazard passive storage cut into some of the acidity and tartness, hard to say.

Reply by dmcker, Aug 2, 2011.

Or maybe that was just the wine the way it was made?

Reply by JonDerry, Aug 2, 2011.

That's the other option.  Their 08's definitely have plenty of tartness, so this particular wine demands a retaste.  Unfortunately, i'm all out, and last time I was up I opted for the 03'-05' vertical.  A friend of mine went with the 06'-08' so i'll see what I can do about a swap or just get him to open it.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 3, 2011.

JD: I side with GregT that the cooking is less the issue at a little above 70--I don't see it as an issue at all--but the speeding up of some of the reactions means the wines might age faster.  So a 20 year wine will crest at 10, but worse, some reactions will happen out of sync with others.  But I also concur that wines aren't so extremely fragile. 

All my storage is passive at this point.  (if we get a new house that's going to change, I think, but it's going to realllly restrict my wine budget if it happens, and probably drive me to drink my existing stock in depression.)  I live in the most moderate part of the Bay Area, so my basement (actually a quarter basement--added so the house could have a space to put a furnace and ducts for central heating) stays reasonably steady.  In the winter, it gets a little extra heat that probably helps it stay closer to optimum.  But there's definitely some fluctuation over the quasi-seasons.  I'm carefully monitoring things.  I think if I sold to a collector, it'd be an issue.  But that's not gonna happen. 

I guess my only advice to JD would be to not get grossly overstocked on any one vintage of any wine.  Try them early and if it looks like it's moving fast, get right on the drinking!

Reply by napagirl68, Aug 3, 2011.

Agree with most.. I have had this happen with some of the Amador, CA wines I used to prefer...  I would take off the foil and actually have wine drip out.  I remember thinking that the wine must be bad.  But it wasn't.. in any of my cases :-).  But, you now have some level of cork breach, so these must be opened soon, in any case.  I wouldn't chance ageing them. 

Leakage does not mean vinegar!  give it a try pretty soon.  If bad, ship it back.

Reply by JonDerry, Aug 3, 2011.

Fox, what really concerned me was seeing the room temperature get around 80 for a month or two.  Oh well, not much damage over the course of a little less than a year.  In 3-5 years, i'm guessing there'd be a more significant difference in drinkability.

Reply by dmcker, Aug 3, 2011.

Over 80 is a different animal. Had problems with winefridges and wine condition with some friends in apartments with a lot of glass and SEastern and SWestern exposures. With a wine quality institute here I helped look at these cases 10 to 15 years ago. Set some metering mechanisms and found that temperature in one apartment was reguylarly above 80F in daytimes for some time, and that affected the wines not in fridges, and in another case went above 100F during summer daytimes and this totally fried both the fridge (Eurocave issues) and then the wines.

I think at above 80 over extended periods (like a month) and above 90 for shorter periods you're going to be looking at some damage, regardless of how robust wine can be. Unless you're talking about fortified....

Reply by GregT, Aug 3, 2011.

Oh yeah.  Unless you want something like Madeira! 

Over 80 for extended periods? 

Disparage them if you must, but the folks at Yellow Tail, Almaden, and others have figured out how to keep their wines alive while enduring such temps.  And endure them they do - in most of the liquor stores in Brooklyn!

"reguylarly above 80F" just sounds like trouble.  Yikes.

For so many reasons.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 4, 2011.

I agree.  The occasional excursion over 70, not a big worry IMO.  Like, 72, okay.  Glass conducts temperature pretty well, but it still has some insulating effects and the temp has to rise for a while to really raise the temp of the wine.  But "by a while," I mean a matter of days if the temp is 76, hours (potentially)  if it's 90 in the house.  I am trusting my passive system because I live in the immediate Bay Area and any extended period of warmth lasts only a few days before the marine layer comes whooshing in like it did last night.  We woke up to a wet deck (about 4 1/2' off the ground) and a dry street, with light dew on the grass.  Temps in the 50s. Perfect.

The other thing I am relying on is that my storage is in the basement.  So even when the house warms up (we have no air conditioning because we have so few days that humans would need it, and that's the rule around here), the temperature there is cooler.  We even have a little sump well that has been a problem in many ways, but actually provides a little heat sink in the summer and some needed humidity, although it's rare to have much water there in the summer. Only the confluence of our watering-obsessed neighbor, clay soils, and high water table (we're a mile from the Bay and maybe 20-25 feet above sea level) even provide that much.

Even so, I am considering installing a thermometer that records the daily temps just to be a little more sure.  And, of course, asking for reassurance from others who have been storing wine longer, and trying bottles a little on the young side. 

Over 80 for prolonged periods would worry me, too.  I think at 70, the wine is just aging faster but at 80, there' s more going on.

Reply by JonDerry, Aug 4, 2011.

For some reason, the downstairs floor of our condo runs hotter than upstairs.  Could be the lighting, but like I mentioned anything I store passively is in a closed cupboard next to a window and at the lowest point I can put it.  Still, basically as soon as I found out it had been running around 80 degrees this summer I took the first opportunity to open it up, and luckily it did show well enough. 

Reply by chophouse, Aug 13, 2013.

Last November I opened a 5 liter Brunello di Montalcino to celebrate my 50th birthday and we were skeptic about it.  The wine had bled out about an inch over the years due to warm weather, and the wax was cracked with bleed stain due to a few movings.  But as we held our breath and kept our fingers crossed while making our first sip, the aroma of the wine turned out to be perfect and the taste remained intense.  We were delighted and relieved to savor the beautiful fruit of the aged Brunello.

 Due to the size of the wine we couldn't have it kept in the cooler but only under air conditioned environment.  But then one day after a week of vacation and leaving the wine in a 90 plus tropical home, I thought the wine was doomed.   

Well, there is my lucky story.  I will tell you next time about the case of Vega Sicilia 2000 that I bought yesterday.  I was too loaded to remember I had a case of pricy wine in my truck and went to bed without loading them to my cooler, after I woked up at noon, I found four of the bottles bled out a few drops.  Savaged in my cooler now but I can't tell the chance I have on this one................T.B.A. next time.

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