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What are the symptoms of wine damaged by improper storage temperature ?
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I used the search feature of this forum, but did not find an exact answer for my situation.

Question: What are the characteristics/symptoms of wine (red) that has been damaged by improper storage temperatures?
My storage environment for reds is a basement that will have temperatures from 58˚to 65˚over a 12 month cycle as the seasons change. There is no large change day do day, but gradually over the year. I live in the northeastern USA.

The reason I'm asking now is because I have opened 2 different bottles in a row that were either flawed or damaged. Both had the same characteristics of no fruit present, tannic, sour, and just off-tasting. However, one had been stored for only 1 month, the other for 4 months. All are stored on their sides.
My oldest wines have been stored for about 3 years, but I'm not ready to open one as an experiment yet.

Thank you (in advance)


"Drink wine! You will achieve eternal life. Wine is the only drink that will return to you your youth.- Divine season of wine and roses, of good friends! - Enjoy the fleeting moment that is your life!"
--Omar Khayam 1073-1125.
 
Posts: 94 | Location: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 01, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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These wines were definitely flawed when you purchased them. No way the damage is due to your cellar temperature/storage conditions.

Was the cork stained with red wine lines/stripes on the sides running from bottom to top? This may be a sign of heat damage.


"The hardest thing to attain ... is the appreciation of difference without insisting on superiority" George Saintsbury
 
Posts: 1545 | Location: DC Suburbs, Potomac MD. | Registered: Dec 12, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thank you Merengue for that reassuring answer. The corks appeared normal, no streaks or discoloration.


"Drink wine! You will achieve eternal life. Wine is the only drink that will return to you your youth.- Divine season of wine and roses, of good friends! - Enjoy the fleeting moment that is your life!"
--Omar Khayam 1073-1125.
 
Posts: 94 | Location: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 01, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The description you gave of these wines doesn't sound like storage temperature problems are likely to be the issue.

The most important question that you need to answer is, what were the wines? This is critical. Different wines? Same bottling? Vintages?

There are two ways temperature can hurt your wine:

1) Too cold. The only way serious damage is likely to occur in this case is if the wine is subjected to temperatures that are so cold that the wine freezes and the resulting pressure pushes the cork out enough to compromise the seal. Oxidation will likely occur in this case and your wine will end up tasting flat and played out if not opened pretty quickly after the freeze. Since you didn't mention pushed out corks, I'm guessing this wasn't the case. Otherwise, continued exposure to lower than "recommended" storage temps will only result in a slowing of the aging process.

2) Too hot. Again, if the wine has been subjected to temperatures extreme enough, the wine and air in the bottle will put pressure on the cork, pushing it outward and often compromising the seal. When this kind of alcohol abuse occurs, the wine will often take on a "cooked, stewed or pruny" characteristic just like you'd expect from any fruit product exposed to extreme heat. Again, since you haven't mentioned cork or leakage issues, I'm guessing this isn't the case either.

The impression of no fruit is almost always a sign of either a corked bottle, or one that is so young and closed that it's in a "dumb" phase and just isn't ready to drink.

Without more info, I'm guessing that one of these suggestions might be the case.

So, what were these wines?

PH
 
Posts: 15009 | Location: Maryland, USA (DC suburbs) | Registered: Nov 22, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thank you PurpleHaze for the enlightening answer. The wines were:
2009 Château St Martin de la Garrigue Coteaux du Languedoc 
2009 Cave de Tain l'Hermitage Crozes-Hermitage Les Hauts de Fief
Both of which I've had before, so know how they should taste.


"Drink wine! You will achieve eternal life. Wine is the only drink that will return to you your youth.- Divine season of wine and roses, of good friends! - Enjoy the fleeting moment that is your life!"
--Omar Khayam 1073-1125.
 
Posts: 94 | Location: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 01, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Sounds like some very young wine. If you had them earlier and they're showing less fruit than you recall, I'm guessing they're closed down for a bit. If you have any kind of TCA detector and aren't giving any hint of taint, I can't think of any other explanation. Poor storage temps don't strike me as as a likely cause of your complaint based on your description.

PH
 
Posts: 15009 | Location: Maryland, USA (DC suburbs) | Registered: Nov 22, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Wine can be noticeably cooked without the cork being displaced.


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Posts: 36759 | Location: NY | Registered: Oct 18, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I don't know that a Crozes-Hermitage would shut down so hard so fast, if at all. If they were cooked they'd be pruny, stewed. TCA can taint a wine just enough to strip away the fruit yet show no wet cardboard or moldy basement qualities. It's happened to me literally just a couple of times...rare, but possible. I'd bet this is a case of TCA taint.


_______________________________________________________________________
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Posts: 1572 | Location: St. Charles, IL | Registered: Dec 26, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Sid_Mac:
My storage environment for reds is a basement that will have temperatures from 58˚to 65˚over a 12 month cycle as the seasons change. There is no large change day do day, but gradually over the year.

All are stored on their sides. My oldest wines have been stored for about 3 years, but I'm not ready to open one as an experiment yet.


Meant to add a few comments on the storage conditions...

These are not ideal conditions. Not even close. Having said that...

Your storage conditions are nearly identical to our offsite passive basement cellar. Humidity also fluctuates with the seasons but is generally 55-58% I think (I'll have to check my spreadsheet for the correct number).

At the end of August we opened one of the very first bottles sent to this location. It had been stored there, on its side, for nine years and eleven months- almost to the day. It was just fine- no advanced aging or issues whatsoever.

Will I store wines in this cellar for 20, 30 or 40+ years and expect them to be as fresh and lively as bottles stored in controlled cellars? Of course not. Those wines are in our temp & humidity controlled facility. My point is that a few months, perhaps even a few years is probably okay and certainly would not cause damage to the bottles to the extent that they taste cooked.


_______________________________________________________________________
Wine is passion. It is family and friends, warmth of heart, and generosity of spirit.
~ Robert Mondavi
 
Posts: 1572 | Location: St. Charles, IL | Registered: Dec 26, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
Wine can be noticeably cooked without the cork being displaced.


No argument. His description of the wine didn't indicate that this was likely the case though.

PH
 
Posts: 15009 | Location: Maryland, USA (DC suburbs) | Registered: Nov 22, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
no fruit present, tannic, sour, and just off-tasting


Sid - did you ever have those wines before? When you drank them, were those the only wines you had that night or were they in a group of others? Do you usually drink wine from the S of France?

Your storage is fine and the wines don't sound cooked from the description. As mentioned, it's hard to tell whether they've been cooked just by the visual condition of the bottle.

Neither are really big fruity wines. Was the St. Martin the Bronzinelle? It's just under 1/2 Syrah and is never overly fruity while the first is pretty much all Syrah. But Syrah from the Rhone or Languedoc isn't like Syrah from say, Barossa. Maybe that's it?

If the St. Martin was the "Tradition", it is usually mostly Carignan with a good dose of Syrah, but that's not a fruit bomb either.


"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
 
Posts: 2588 | Location: NY | Registered: Dec 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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GregT, thank you for your reply.

I have had both of these wines before.
They were the only wine that evening, no others.
I frequently, but not exclusively, drink wines from the south of France.

The 2 wines were:
2009 Château St Martin de la Garrigue Coteaux du Languedoc
2009 Cave de Tain l'Hermitage Crozes-Hermitage Les Hauts de Fief


"Drink wine! You will achieve eternal life. Wine is the only drink that will return to you your youth.- Divine season of wine and roses, of good friends! - Enjoy the fleeting moment that is your life!"
--Omar Khayam 1073-1125.
 
Posts: 94 | Location: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 01, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Your basement storage conditions may not be perfect, but they are just fine, and had absolutely no impact on the wines in question. A 7-degree temperature swing which occurs slowly over 6 months is minor, especially since you are dealing with temps in the low 60's. Your wines might age a little faster than someone with a constant 54-degree cellar, but I doubt anyone would notice any difference between the two for wines stored less than 10 years or so. If you said 88-95 degrees, or a swing of 20-30 degrees, or a daily +/- 7 degree temperature shift, that would be an entirely different story.

My best guess is TCA ("corked" bottles). There are many wine drinkers that can't pick out the tell-tale smells of TCA, but they can appreciate that the wine is just dead--robbed of flavor. I also agree that sometimes TCA can rob a wine of flavor, without a strong element of the classic "wet newspaper" character of TCA.

Sometimes, you might have a cold, a virus, or a seasonal allergy, and wines could taste "off" for a day or two, so that's a thought. Certain medications, and even some foods, can throw your taste buds out of whack.

Overheated bottles are also a possibility, but not your fault. During the journey from a barrel in Southern France, into a bottle, to negociant/exporter, across the Atlantic aboard a ship, to a loading dock, to a delivery truck, to Pennsylvania, there are plenty of chances for the wines to get cooked. Sometimes cases of wines are stacked up outside a warehouse in the hot sun, or left in a hot delivery truck. It is even possible that the bottles on the exposed side of a case box got cooked, while other bottles did not.


Stay thirsty my friends.
 
Posts: 3052 | Location: Saginaw, MI | Registered: Mar 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thank you Redhawk for the answer and explanation.


"Drink wine! You will achieve eternal life. Wine is the only drink that will return to you your youth.- Divine season of wine and roses, of good friends! - Enjoy the fleeting moment that is your life!"
--Omar Khayam 1073-1125.
 
Posts: 94 | Location: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 01, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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