ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Everyone knows high temperatures can damage wine, but has anyone ever determined how quickly damage occurs? For example, if you buy some wine on a hot day, can you make a stop or two on the way home? If so, how long do you have? At what temperature does heat start to damage wine?

—Brian C., Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Dear Brian,

As awesome as it would be to come up with a formula to find the tipping point when a wine is good one moment and bad the next, it’s not that simple. First off, all wines are different—some are more fragile than others, and if the wine is bottled with a cork, each cork is also a unique snowflake and can react differently to the same conditions. You can have multiple bottles exposed to the same elements, and some might be fine while others are cooked. You’d also have to factor in barometric pressure, whether or not the wines are exposed to UV rays, and how warm or cool the bottles were before they were exposed to extreme temperatures.

You’re right that high temperature is bad for wine—it can create cooked flavors or compromise the cork—so it’s best to avoid extended heat. If you can’t avoid a hot car, consider traveling with a cooler and/or ice packs. My trunk is hotter than the cabin of my car, so on warm days I’ll keep wine up front with me and keep the air conditioner on. An hour or two should probably be OK for younger wines, but I wouldn’t tempt fate beyond that.

—Dr. Vinny


Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

MEMBER LOGIN

= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Free Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences

Classifieds

The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories