Does Wine Spoil If Let In A Hot Car? - Wine Turtle

Does Wine Spoil If Let In A Hot Car?

This post was updated on: November 1, 2018

Does Wine Spoil If Let In A Hot Car?

Does Wine Spoil If Let In A Hot Car?

Does wine spoil if let in a hot car? A question that’s perhaps tormenting you.

Whether you’re a casual drinker or a true connoisseur, you probably have a soft spot for your favorite wine. Wines come in many different shapes, sizes, and flavors. Each one has a unique signature that allows it to make a statement in the tastes it presents. It is not uncommon for one bottle to contain a burst of multiple flavors and accents.

Preferences vary among all wine drinkers, some favoring a merlot with a soft finish over a spicy Pinot Noir or a sweeter wine over one with an acidic tang. But, no matter your choice, there is an ideal wine for everyone with delicate blends and subtle flavors that make each type stand out from its counterparts.

With that being said, nobody wants their much-anticipated bottle of wine to spoil under any circumstances or conditions. If you’ve been looking forward to that nice and crisp glass all day, the last thing you want is to worry about it going bad.

The average wine drinker, though, may not know the details about avoiding this potential mishap and preventing future ones. You may, unthinkingly, purchase a bottle of wine at your local winery or store and decide to leave it in your car while you run other errands or do a number of other various tasks before heading home to put it on ice. This will not only affect the wine in your possession but also your enjoyment of it and its freshness.

Does wine spoil if let in a hot car?

While wine is unique in many ways, it can still spoil in the heat of the day. One thing to keep in mind when leaving your precious cargo in the hold is that, even if the temperature outside is relatively mild on average, the temperature inside your car will inevitably be hotter than that of the exterior. Studies have shown that, even if it is only seventy-five degrees outside, it can reach up to a hundred degrees inside the vehicle you’re driving in less than twenty minutes. This happens for a number of reasons, and the outcome is slightly different depending on a number of factors and scenarios like car position, upholstery, and exterior color.

When wine is subjected to heat like that it does a few things over a span of some time. First, the cork will expand. This often causes it to loosen or pop out entirely over a short period of time. Second, it will begin to “cook,” leading to what is commonly referred to as a cooked wine. This results in a drastic change of the flavors due to the preservatives inside the wine being heated up. These two events are interconnected in their own ways. When the cork of the wine loosens, it allows air into the bottle. This causes the liquid to lose a lot of the flavor you loved so much about the wine initially. It can add to the acidity and discard any of the more fine-tuned flavors incorporated in the bottle.

Unlike many of your favorite drinks, though, wine generally doesn’t go bad to the point of causing you harm. But it can be a bit tricky to diagnose when it comes to if the wine has actually been spoiled in a way that will affect the contents. There’s no exact agreed upon time frame or temperature at which wine goes wrong. It varies from wine to wine due to things like composition and cork type. Some say that wine is fine even left in the sun for days while others think even a few hours is too much and will leave the wine with a worse taste. Many professionals, however, agree that wine will go bad at some point, but it is dependent on the exact attributes of the location where it is being kept.

How to preserve your wine from shop to home?

No matter the expiration time period, there are a few key ways to identify a bottle exposed to the elements. If you notice leaking near the cork or down the sides than this could be a sign that the seal is broken. If you smell a slightly burnt aroma from the wine that can signal the “cooking” of the wine, another sign of it being spoilt. In any case, make sure to keep an eye on your much-beloved bottles of wine.

Making sure your wine maintains its freshness should always be a key priority when buying and transporting it. Always look over your purchases if you’ve left them out in the heat. Keep a close eye on any bottles that will be traveling in the heat to make sure they’ll be able to get through the ride. If you aren’t positive of how to maintain the condition of your wine here are a few quick tips for you.

1. Make picking up your wine the last stop before heading home for the day. This may seem simple, but it’s a sure fire way to guarantee your wine will remain good. It will prevent it from being exposed to extended hours in the car and the direct warmth of the sun. This is especially a good step to take in the summer when the temperatures are soaring beyond a reasonable number.

2. Park your car in the shade. This simple step, while by no means full proof in preventing your wine from going bad, will keep your car a bit cooler. It will leave your vehicle out of direct sunlight, therefore, decreasing your risk of the heat getting to the wine.

3. Don’t put your wine in the trunk. The trunk has been shown to be one of the hottest places in a car. It will cause the wine to spoil more quickly than when left in the main part of the vehicle. Try to clear out space after your shopping trip in the front or back seat; this also allows you to make sure the bottle isn’t being jostled or broken during the trip. In addition, you can keep an eye out for any spills and leaking due to the expanding of the cork caused by intense heat.

4. Take a cooler or insulated bag with you to maintain the chill. You may not be able to make picking up your wine your last stop, or you may simply want to take your bottle with you on a longer than normal drive out to the countryside. If you have to pick your wine up for a long car ride, the next best thing to taking it straight home is to bring a cooler or insulated bag. Prepare the cooler or insulated bag with ice at the bottom then place your wine bottle in the cooler and finally pack ice over top of it. This will allow the drink to stay cool even in a hot car. But be sure to keep the lid sealed tight, or the effort could be wasted.

5. Keep track of your wine. Make sure you remember to bring the wine in when getting out of the car. Leaving it out in the car will expose it for possibly the longest duration of time to the heat. It increases the likelihood of the bottle spilling out in your car from the cork expanding. Forgetting wine is one of the leading causes of overheating so try to keep a mental checklist of what you need to bring in and what is fine left outside, wine not being one of those things.

6. If you don’t have access to ice or a cooler or an insulated bag than use the AC to keep your vehicle colder. If it’s a hot day outside roll up your windows and crank the air conditioning to help in the cooling process. This will keep the temperature low and provide a nice environment for your wine to travel in. It will also allow you a break from the elements yourself.

Final Thoughts

A glass of wine can be the ideal way to relax after a long day, or it can be the perfect start to any night out. Wine is a vital part of our everyday life and culture and is a beloved drink of all times. It is something everyone enjoys, but it’s also something you should inform yourself on in order to preserve it and keep your beverage intact. If you must leave your wine in the car be sure to take the time to keep a watchful eye on it and take a few precautions to maintain its freshness.

So next time you’re going to pick up your favorite wine from your local vineyard or market, remember to move and store it carefully. Take into consideration the condition you will be leaving it in and see if there is a better location to put your bottle. If there is, and it’s easily accessible, consider moving it. Taking these precautions will prevent any nasty side effects of the flavor and allow for a more enjoyable tasting. It may seem like a small thing, but it will definitely improve your overall experience as a wine drinker and lover.

About the Author

Although not having any formal training in wine, Tim has developed an irrefutable love wine and interest in anything related to it ever since he was a little kid. Coming from a family of wine lovers, it was from a young age that he got exposed to wine and the culture that goes with it and has been addicted ever since. Having traveled to dozens of wine regions across the world including those in France, Italy, California, Australia, and South Africa and tasted a large selection of their wines, it is with great joy that he hopes to share those experiences here and take you along on the journey.

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