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Where I live, it's -5 to 0 F outside today. Just as an experiment, I took two identical bottles of wine, a cheap Tempranillo I've been drinking lately, and put them outside, in a shady spot on the porch. I packed one inside a styrofoam shipper, and put it in a snug fitting box, the other, standing upright, no protection. I checked in on them after three hours. The exposed bottle was pretty much solid, with a cork that had pushed up through the foil two inches. The other one (I opened it to check), was very cold, but had no ice build up, and an intact cork. It tasted fine.

With really hot weather, it's a no brainer, you'll get damaged, crappy tasting wine in a hurry. Shipping in extreme heat is a no go no-brainer in my book.

With cold weather shipping, people seem to get equally nervous about it, and I'm not sure why. We know that wine freezes in the low 20s F, the teens if it's got high sugar or ETOH. Someone might have other opinions, but IMO, if wine gets cold, but does not start to freeze, it'll be unaffected once it's warmed up. Basically, so what if it gets down to 30 degrees, or even a bit colder, no worries, IMO.

After reading through the B-21 thread, I have to ask:

I am curious, have you ever received a frozen or otherwise verifiably cold-damaged bottle that's been shipped to you? If so, what was the situation?

Thx all!
Original Post
I did try the search function and I find diverse responses, so I'll just add that I am still interested in opinions (and yes anecdotes). But maybe this is just because someone chose this week to send me two bottles, ground, without asking or thinking to hold it, and it is due tomorrow, so I sit and worry about the condition of what I will receive. And worry. And worry... (I mean hey, these are good bottles)
Sounds like the same weather we're having here. It's -6 out right now and dropping.

I've had a few with those little crystals in the bottom and around the cork that I think were from being frozen briefly that otherwise seemed fine. If they ship you're wine to you in 3 hours you might not need to worry but try that same experiment for two days in the same Temps and you'll get the same result as the uninsulated bottle I promise you. Styrofoam can only insulate for so long and I'm sure it's not days.

I don't know if cargo holds on planes are heated either, they probably are, but if not they should get down to -50 or so regularly for a few hours year round while at altitude but that doesn't seem to effect the wines I have had shipped that way so maybe thay are temp controlled.
KSC02,

I hear you, for sure. But, I doubt that the contents of the back of a UPS truck go for 60 straight hours in this kind of extreme temperature. I'd think drivers would keep the heat cranked, at least during their 8-10 hour shift. But, you may very well be right. Maybe someone who has courier experience can chime in?

french16, it's got nothing to do with the humidity, remember your basic physics. If you drill holes in stone, fill them with water that later freezes, voila: Cracked stone through expansion. Early road builders used this trick in the mountains. The expansion needed to push up a cork is minor by comparison.

Chum lee, interesting, I'd be curious to find out if a very cold, but non-frozen burgundy or such is negatively affected by the chilling.

Icewino, for sure. It's -6 here now, and should bottom out around -10. It'd take a hell of a lot of insulation (more than the styro shipper for sure), to keep the cork down during a whole evening out in the elements.
quote:
Originally posted by indybob:

I am curious, have you ever received a frozen or otherwise verifiably cold-damaged bottle that's been shipped to you? If so, what was the situation?

Thx all!


Yes. More than once.

In some cases, I mean bottles, the cork was pushed completely out and the wine spilled into the packaging.
In every case/bottle, there was an unusual amount of sediment. I presume that the freezing precipitated out tartrates and other solids.
I really can't say for sure how the taste was affected. The empty, or nearly empty, bottles gave no clue. I didn't have a comparison non-frozen bottle to calibrate the others.
I've read some comments that frozen-thawed wine seemed softer, but diminished in fruit. I can't support that from experience, but I can imagine that the solids that fall out might consist of more than just tartrates. By observation, the residue was not the typical clear crystalline tartrates.
Due to the seal being compromised, I didn't risk trying to store or age any of the wines with corks pushed up in the neck. Dead soldiers tell no tales.
Bummer pdn, thanks for the info. What were the circumstances? Temperature in your area at the time, what was the shipping method/courier, and so forth? Any pattern that you found, other than it was cold? I found this interesting discussion on taste of these wines: Clicky.

I'd think that while the wines wouldn't be ruined in the short term, the long term ageworthiness would of course be severely impeded (assuming a top up and proper recork), due to the sudden precipitates.
Yep was moving some wine into my car this morning and it was -17F but normally wine doesn't freeze unless it's below...say 20F. I picked this up on some website via google. I suppose it's just like a pop can you throw into the freezer to cool off and you forget about it.

I have some cheap white wine that I'll experiment with. An official study shall we??
quote:
Originally posted by mcease:
quote:
Originally posted by french16:
I'm surprised the cork pushed up the foil. With that cold and dry, cork should have shrunk and not gone up.
Interesting.


Liquid water expands when frozen. The cork moved up to compensate for the pressure of the expanding wine.


khmark7, very cool. If you feel like playing around with some cheapies, go for it, and post your findings.
quote:
Originally posted by french16:
I'm surprised the cork pushed up the foil. With that cold and dry, cork should have shrunk and not gone up.
Interesting.

I've had similar experiences with beer. I'll get back from a ride or after doing some yard work and realize I don't have a cold one so maybe I'll throw one in the freezer and forget about it. When I remember hours later or the next day, the cap is pushed way up and off of the bottle by a slushie of beer.
It isn't surprising that the cork goes up, the frozen liquid occupies greater volume and there is nowhere for the air to go.

RESULT - I just got my wine. Shipped on Tuesday. Ground. Northeast to Midwest through the coldest week of the winter. And... The wine appears to be fine. The corks are not raised at all. The wine in the bottle moves albeit very slowly. I have now placed the wine in a cool spot to acclimate slowly.
I am very relieved. I didn't really want to try out a Les Suchots Popsicle tonight. Now I'll hope that the wine inside is really okay. But we will wait awhile to find out that part.
quote:
Originally posted by indybob:
Bummer pdn, thanks for the info. What were the circumstances? Temperature in your area at the time, what was the shipping method/courier, and so forth? Any pattern that you found, other than it was cold? I found this interesting discussion on taste of these wines: Clicky.

I'd think that while the wines wouldn't be ruined in the short term, the long term ageworthiness would of course be severely impeded (assuming a top up and proper recork), due to the sudden precipitates.


IB,

The wine came from the east coast. While it does get cold out here, it doesn't get cold enough to freeze wine in a delivery truck. It didn't get cold enough to freeze wine sitting on my deck. I'm assuming the freeze was as it was transported by ground across the Midwest.

Old wines sometimes get re-corked, so it may be that just pushing the cork back in all the way is enough to allow the wine to be stored and aged almost as normal. I'll leave that experiment to someone else.
Received a mixed case today. Was shipped yesterday. Temperature here was about 24F today, so nowhere near the extreme lows of last week. Bottles were cold, but no signs of damage (seepage, pushed up corks, etc...). These are mostly daily drinkers, so wouldn't have done it with wines I'd want to store for longer periods of time. Will drink some of the wine soon, but don't expect there to be any issues. Not a big stress test at only 24F, but this one passed nonetheless.
quote:
Originally posted by khmark7:
Yep was moving some wine into my car this morning and it was -17F but normally wine doesn't freeze unless it's below...say 20F. I picked this up on some website via google. I suppose it's just like a pop can you throw into the freezer to cool off and you forget about it.

Is this the site you were referring to khmark7?

Certainly, the true freezing mark will have some connection to just how high the % alcohol is in the wine. And don't forget, that wine will begin expanding as it enters that jelly-like slushy stage. Not just when it's finally frozen. To me, this logically begins the entrance to the danger zone.

I'm particularly interested in this issue, as I need to relocate several bottles and will likely have to endure two 'overnights' in a moving truck. I'm thinking more than twice about doing this only when northern temps improve a bit (yiggidy yiggidy).

Yes, they'd be in an enclosed truck and packed in styrofoam. However, I'm not willing to push the limit too closely at all. It's just not worth the risk. If I could be certain of temps being 25 deg+ F for those nights, I'm thinking inside temps + styrofoam make it pretty safe.
quote:
Originally posted by french16:
I'm surprised the cork pushed up the foil. With that cold and dry, cork should have shrunk and not gone up.
Interesting.


Wine is mostly water. When water freezes, it's volume increases. As the ice crystals form, they have to go somewhere, and will take the path of least resistance. The two options are break the bottle or push the cork up. Most of the time, I suspect the cork is pushed up rather than the bottle breaking.
I know a guy who was in Napa at New Year's and bought some wine to be shipped back to Florida. Three bottles in a styrofoam shipper. Each bottle had the cork protruding about an inch and a half out of the bottle (broke through the foil) and wine all over the styrofoam shipper.

Given the Polar Vortex that the U.S. just went through, I think it is pretty clear that this was a result of freezing.
quote:
Originally posted by Rothko:
I know a guy who was in Napa at New Year's and bought some wine to be shipped back to Florida. Three bottles in a styrofoam shipper. Each bottle had the cork protruding about an inch and a half out of the bottle (broke through the foil) and wine all over the styrofoam shipper.

Given the Polar Vortex that the U.S. just went through, I think it is pretty clear that this was a result of freezing.


-10 F Wink

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