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Can plane travel wreck my wines?

Peter D. Meltzer
Posted: June 14, 2011

Q: Is it true that shipping by air (domestic or international) could impair the wine aging potential or even its quality, considering the extreme temperature swings? —Stanley

A: It depends on how the wine is shipped. You are correct that temperatures inside a plane's cargo unit can fluctuate dramatically -- potentially harming the wine. (With excessive heat, the wine and air inside the bottle may expand, causing the corks to protrude. ) The best recourse is to engage the services of a professional carrier which provides pressurized temperature and humidity storage. Make sure that the wine doesn't remain on the tarmac for an excessive period of time. It's also worth investigating whether the wine is stored in a temperature and humidity controlled warehouse either before or after it reaches its destination. Let the wine rest a couple of weeks after the flight before opening it. Finally, note that restrictions may apply to direct wine shipments. --Peter D. Meltzer

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