Heat damage can be disastrous for wine and will mostly likely ruin the bottle. Imagine coming home planning on enjoying a nice bottle of wine, only to find that the cap has been pushed off the top of the bottle, the wine itself taste terrible, and worst of all it has leaked everywhere and made a mess. When exposed to extreme temperatures, this can happen very quickly to a bottle of wine. Even if temperatures are not extreme, too much heat will damage your wine over time. Here are some warning signs of heat damage to look for on your bottles of wine.
The easiest thing to look for is a leak. Wine bottles should never leak anywhere. If you notice any spilled liquid or sticky surfaces around a bottle of wine, it very well may have been damaged by heat.
Another easy thing to look for is a disfigured cork. If you see that a cork on a bottle of wine looks swelled, disfigured, or even cracked, you have likely caught it right before it is going to start to leak. The cork of a wine bottle stored at an appropriate temperature will not change its size or shape over any amount of time.
A taste test can reveal if your wine has been damaged by heat. Wine that has been stored at too hot temperatures will not taste like wine at all. It will taste almost like it has been cooked. If the wine is a fruity wine, it will taste like distilled, burnt fruit. Other wines will taste very one-dimensional, meaning there will just be one strong flavor and it will not be a pleasant one. You don’t have to be an expert to tell by the taste if it has been damaged or not. As soon as the wine hits your lips, you will know.
For unopened bottles of wine, try to move the cork around. You should be able to spin the cork in circles without having any problems. If the cork seems to be stuck or it appears to be sticking to the edges, heat is likely the cause for it. Whenever wine is exposed to heat, whether the bottle has been opened or not, it expands. The stage where the cork will not move on an unopened bottle of wine is a precursor to the cork popping off and the wine leaking everywhere.
Where you got a bottle of wine can also give you a good idea on if it has been exposed to any extreme temperatures. For example, if you have your wine delivered to you, consider tracing its roots. If it began its journey during the summer in a factory in Texas and sat in a truck for days before it arrived at your house, don’t be surprised if it tastes like cooked wine. Many wine selling websites will tell you right on their site if their wine is shipped in a refrigerated container or not. If the website mentions nothing of that sort, contact customer service before making a purchase to find out.
If you go into a liquor store that is not air conditioned, make sure to fully inspect any bottles of wine that you want to buy before purchasing them. Even if the bottles appear to be fine, you may want to buy your wine somewhere else. A liquor or another kind of store that sells wine may not care about selling slightly damaged wine if it saves them thousands of dollars on air conditioning bills.