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.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have a few wines that I'd been saving in a wooden wine box in the back of my closet. The other day I left and forgot to turn the fireplace off, and when I returned home it was around 90 degrees in the apartment. How can I tell if these wines are ruined? What should I taste for or notice in order to know if they have been changed? Is it worth it to continue to keep them in a wine fridge from here on out and let them continue to age, or are they done for?

—Jo J., Denver

Dear Jo,

I get many questions like this, and I'm always tempted to say, "Your wine is toast. Send it to me!" The truth is that your wine is probably fine, but if you need an excuse to pop a cork, by all means check one out. The main worry with temperature fluctuation is the possibility of corks expanding and contracting. I'd start by looking to see if the wine has leaked through the cork, or if it looks like the cork is pushed out a bit. This doesn't necessarily mean it's a goner, but it's some evidence that you have a reason to be worried.

—Dr. Vinny


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