Heat damaged wines

I was reading on an American wine blog (Dr Vino) recently a fairly active discussion on the extent of the problem with heat damaged wines.  You can read the posts here and here.  Which seems a sensible and highly relevant topic for me to raise when the ice warning flashed up on the car this morning.  So sorry about that, albeit I say sorry here taking advantage of its lesser known inverse meaning.  The result of excess heat of wine is well documented - prematurely aged characters, flat and cooked flavours and oxidation are among them.  It seems possible sometimes to spot these possibilities on inspection of the bottle - a lower than expected fill level, discolouration and for wines sealed under cork, a capsule that doesn't turn freely or is sticky, or a cork that is protruding.  Other times, tasting the wine foreshadows the unbridled joy of the debate to follow.  First me v me: do I really care enough to return it?  Really?  Second, me v retailer: will the 3/4 full bottle by my side gladden his or her heart?

The issue stems fairly evidently from failing to transport and store wine at low temperatures.  And most Australian cities and regions are disastrously hot (or variable) or both at some point or other during the year.  Which therefore means that much wine will be cooked without intervention.  Which intervention is a problem if the vast majority of people who might benefit from said intervention wouldn't appear to give a stuff about the reason for intervening.   So, it is probably the case that it is the wine trade that will need to do its best - and my anecdotal observations reveal a mixed bag.  Retailers that don't adequately climate control their displays - not that I've seen much different overseas.  Warehouse stocks that could be climate controlled, but their status is not known.  Cases of wine stacked high at wineries sitting in tin sheds in summer in South Australia.  Leaky corks and sticky capsules for wines on retail shelves.  Wines freighted in the height of summer.  Tired tasting imported wine begging the polite to question the climate control of its shipping (or the bits before and after shipping).

I personally think a lot more can be done to avoid the problem, and it does surprise me a little that more don't take it seriously as offering a potential competitive advantage.  Any thoughts on who to watch and watch out for much appreciated.
Wine Thoughts
July 27, 2011

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