BAD WINE: Signs of Heat Damage

Heat Damaged Cork

A sign of wine oxidation is the cork popping above the bottleneck

About a month ago, there was a local heat wave that was in full force just as I was having a bottle of white wine shipped to me. The bottle arrived HOT – not very warmHOT. I was positive the wine was toast. Still, I received some excellent tips on how to revive the bottle from my winemaker friend.*

How to Revive a Hot Bottle of Wine

• Location: Store in a dark location for 1 month
• Temperature: Should be cool (70 degrees)
• Environment: Quiet and still

I carefully followed his instructions, but nothing could rescue this poor bottle. After waiting a month, when I finally opened the wine I found evidence that the bottle had in fact been damaged by heat, or oxidation:

Signs of Heat Damaged Wine (Oxidation)

• Cork: My first clue was that the cork was not flush with the bottleneck. Instead it was slightly popping out, as illustrated above.
• Aroma & Taste: After observing the cork clue, I confirmed my oxidation suspicion through taste. The wine was flat, with no aroma, no finish, and no fruit, minerality, or any other flavors you’d expect from a freshly opened bottle of wine.
• Color: Another sign to look for, but one which I did not particularly notice, is a darker color for whites. Since I didn’t have another bottle to compare with, it was difficult to say if color had been affected for this bottle.

And now you know that if you ever receive a very hot bottle, or notice the cork popping out and a very dismal tasting wine, that it’s most likely not the fault of the winery, winemaker, or even the UPS delivery person; this is a tell-tale sign that, once again, Mother Nature has had her way with our vino.

* Thanks Mark (Big Dog Vineyards) for the tip!

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