The jury is still out on whether there are ways to determine whether a wine bottle has been exposed to excessive heat somewhere between leaving the winery and its final destination, be in a wine shop or your home.
In a letter to the magazine in the Dec. 31 issue, a reader claims that there’s no way to apply temperature-sensitive strips to wine bottles, or cases, since, the writer claims, glass is a “notably poor conductor of heat and cold.” If a bottle of wine were put in an ice bucket it would feel cold on the outside yet still be warm, he writes. Moreover, if a wine were to reach 85° F on the outside, that doesn’t mean the wine is that hot, although it might be.
Yet I remain hopeful that there are better and safer and cooler ways to keep and ship wine in transit, just as I remain optimistic that the industry will find a solution for flawed wine closures, namely corks.
On the subject of wines being exposed to excessive heat in shipping, Larry Chase says his company is on it and, as an anecdote, he relates a story that sounds incredible. Yet if it happened, it would rank among the best cooked-wine stories I’ve heard.
“I just finished reading your article on how to beat the heat in Wine Spectator magazine and would like to let you know our company, PakSense, is trying to solve the problem you described. We currently have five wine companies using our label for quality assurance.
“The PakSense label is small, about the size of a sugar packet, and inexpensive. It can measure the temperature of what is inside a carton or pallet and not just the air temperature.
“I heard a story last year from a California specialty wine company regarding why they were no longer shipping in the summer. It seems a delivery truck driver in New York decided to stop off for a drink as he was making his rounds during one July afternoon. When he finished his drink, he went outside and found a SWAT team surrounding his truck. The wine inside the truck had become overheated had been popping the corks which a passerby had thought were explosions or gunshots.”
The PakSense label can also track when and where the temperature extreme occurred as well as flashing an amber light to show an extreme has occurred, Chase claims, extending an invitation to visit his website, paksense.com.
Curious if anyone’s heard of or tried this product, or thinks it’s practical or would work. I’d happily pay for this service for a case of wine that might cost $600 to $1,200.