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Wine and Summer Heat

This may be similar to a past write up, although well worth repeating as a costly mistake could be made. Summer 2010 has arrived and with a vengeance in some areas of the USA. Here on the East coast we have experienced several triple digit days which is highly unusual, even breaking a long standing record of 103 degrees on one occasion. While lakes, beaches and water parks love this weather it does not bold well for wine not properly stored. There are plenty of scientific and technical articles out there to research which are certainly valuable; but here we will try to keep it simple.

Wine is a living organism and all living things age, wine aged properly can be a beautiful thing. Heat stressed wine on the other hand is subjected to rapid maturation rather than slow even aging and will rapidly deteriorate. With summer being a time of vacation and travel many of us wine lovers visit tasting rooms and make purchases. A sun baked car can be the death of your wine. Just as an example; a closed car in 78 degree temperatures can reach into the 90 degree range in five minutes and well over 100 degrees in 25 minutes. After a few hours at those temperatures your wine may be undrinkable. Wine that has been exposed 2-3 hours at these temps may still be salvageable if immediately brought to a storage temp of 58-60 degrees. I would strongly recommend drinking this wine soon rather than storing for a long period though as the aging process has already been jump started. As for home storage, wine should be stored in cool dark places with controlled humidity, not everyone has that kind of storage though. This is when you have to decide to either lower inventory of wine stored during summer months or drink faster. There are some simple and inexpensive fixes for all of these problems. Let’s begin with storage in a car; we have traveled to Napa Valley seven times, most of which have been during summer months. When arriving in the valley we always find a place to purchase a cheap Styrofoam cooler and a few ice packs, problem solved. Just make sure what you purchase will fit the size of your cooler.

As for home storage yes, you can drop your inventory during warm months or you can purchase a wine cooler. Wine coolers today come in many shapes and sizes with various options that can all dictate prices.  There is dual zone store which is neat, if you want your whites a tad cooler than your reds.  The units also come disguised as nice pieces of furniture with cherry or oak finish wood.  Just about any serious wine lover can find a storage unit suitable to their décor if they choose to display in a common area room and want the unit to blend in. A wine cellar is the best investment if you plan to store wine long term, or in large quantities.  If all else fails and you just can’t feasibly purchase any type of wine storage unit, be sure to keep your wine in a cool basement or lower level closet away from the sun and heat; just do not plan to store these wines long term. Wine purchasing and collecting can be lots of fun, just be sure to head the warning regarding high temps!

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