When is it too cold to ship wine?

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HoosJustinG
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When is it too cold to ship wine?

#1 Post by HoosJustinG » January 22nd, 2020, 9:04 am

I'd stipulate shipment by air for the question, as obviously ground shipping through northern states could expose wine to below freezing temps for days on end.

Specifically for me, I have wine coming today Napa (to VA) where it got down to 18-20 degrees in the early morning (at which time planes would've been unloaded and trucks would've been loaded). So I figure the wine was fully exposed to sub-freezing temps for maybe an hour or two sitting and then on a truck (where the back is also not climate controlled, but presumably it's a bit warmer than outside temps?) for a few early AM hours before it got into the high 30s more like fridge temperatures. Safe or would you be worried? Most of the wine is daily drinker stuff, but I do have a single bottle of '16 Eisele coming too ... and I'd be bummed to pop that one in a decade and have clear evidence of leakage and know what happened. Any other advice (like leave it in my 40's garage for a day and bring it up to temp before throwing it in 55F wine cooler?)
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#2 Post by Al Osterheld » January 22nd, 2020, 9:13 am

The only harm would be if enough of the wine froze to push up the cork, damaging the seal. With those temperatures/times, it's unlikely (the wine starts to freeze around 22F, but not much freezes, it takes a while, and the wine has to cool down before it can freeze). No need to leave in your garage, just inspect the bottles.

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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#3 Post by Markus S » January 22nd, 2020, 9:27 am

18-20F still good to ship, but don't keep it on your doorstep for a week at that temp. If the wine is moving, I'd say down to 12-15 would be okay but sketchy. Would prefer 20+ to ship, in case it stands still outdoors.
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#4 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » January 22nd, 2020, 9:42 am

I’m ok with shipping in the East cosst atm, just don’t want it shipped across the Great Plains/Midwest

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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#5 Post by John Morris » January 22nd, 2020, 9:43 am

There's a long recent thread on this topic with lots of things to ponder (click here).
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#6 Post by HoosJustinG » January 22nd, 2020, 10:09 am

John Morris wrote:
January 22nd, 2020, 9:43 am
There's a long recent thread on this topic with lots of things to ponder (click here).
Thanks for the link ... tried a search but my keywords would've missed that thread!
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#7 Post by ChadG » January 22nd, 2020, 10:34 am

I live in Eastern PA and I'm fine with shipping if tempts are in 30's daytime 20's at night. Only have had 1 bottle push the cork up and it was when the daytime temp was in the 20's all week long and the wine came from CA. I brought it to room temp and opened it, tasted fine. All of my shipments I have held at UPS or Walgreens(fedex) so I don't have to be home when they come since a signature is needed.
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#8 Post by Vincent Fritzsche » January 22nd, 2020, 11:47 am

Good to hear people pretty open to shipping temps. There’s more acceptable range than people sometimes think. Next week should be good across the upper Midwest with a warm up bringing temps along the northern routes to mostly 20s at night if not 30s. good to get some samples to distributors and critics on the road.
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#9 Post by Neal.Mollen » January 22nd, 2020, 12:21 pm

HoosJustinG wrote:
January 22nd, 2020, 9:04 am
I'd stipulate shipment by air for the question, as obviously ground shipping through northern states could expose wine to below freezing temps for days on end.

Specifically for me, I have wine coming today Napa (to VA) where it got down to 18-20 degrees in the early morning (at which time planes would've been unloaded and trucks would've been loaded). So I figure the wine was fully exposed to sub-freezing temps for maybe an hour or two sitting and then on a truck (where the back is also not climate controlled, but presumably it's a bit warmer than outside temps?) for a few early AM hours before it got into the high 30s more like fridge temperatures. Safe or would you be worried? Most of the wine is daily drinker stuff, but I do have a single bottle of '16 Eisele coming too ... and I'd be bummed to pop that one in a decade and have clear evidence of leakage and know what happened. Any other advice (like leave it in my 40's garage for a day and bring it up to temp before throwing it in 55F wine cooler?)
Shipping from Napa to VA is, to some degree, dicey 10 months out of the year in the sense that there is almost always someplace in between hotter or colder than you'd want. Without knowing where your wine may get stuck, there is really no way to measure the risks.

But in my very (very) long experience I have never ever had a problem shipping in the winter. Never had a cork push out or dislodge, never had a wine-cicle delivered, never opened a bottle I thought was flawed by cold. I check to see if there is a snowstorm that might trap my wine on a tractor trailer someplace for days on end, but failing that, I never hesitate to pull the trigger on a winter shipment.

Just make sure they are in your cellar by March, or April at the latest. The heat'll kill ya
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#10 Post by HoosJustinG » January 22nd, 2020, 1:11 pm

Just to close the loop on my case at least, wine delivered 1pm and used infrared thermometer “gun” to grab a temp on the wine... both inside and outside bottles (case box w/ styrofoam) were 47F. I’m guessing they probably warmed a couple of degrees from the cold point this morning, but seems like they were well north of ever being in the freezing range.
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#11 Post by Neal.Mollen » January 22nd, 2020, 1:41 pm

Alcoholic beverages don't want to freeze.
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#12 Post by Victor Hong » January 22nd, 2020, 3:04 pm

What about “olive oil”?
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#13 Post by adam caldwell » January 22nd, 2020, 3:10 pm

This is only problem I have had but it has made me a bit more conservative in the winter. This was shipped from east coast to Chicago and we got a crazy cold snap to single digits. They shipped without my knowledge and corrected it and made it right which was appreciated.
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#14 Post by J.Durham » January 22nd, 2020, 4:21 pm

Agree. Should be fine. Much preferable to trying to get wine shipped to Texas.

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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#15 Post by John Morris » January 22nd, 2020, 6:10 pm

adam caldwell wrote:
January 22nd, 2020, 3:10 pm
This is only problem I have had but it has made me a bit more conservative in the winter. This was shipped from east coast to Chicago and we got a crazy cold snap to single digits. They shipped without my knowledge and corrected it and made it right which was appreciated.

thumbnail_IMG_3739.jpgthumbnail_IMG_3735.jpgthumbnail_IMG_3734.jpg
Well, THAT'S dramatic!

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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#16 Post by Alan Rath » January 22nd, 2020, 6:16 pm

adam caldwell wrote:
January 22nd, 2020, 3:10 pm
This is only problem I have had but it has made me a bit more conservative in the winter. This was shipped from east coast to Chicago and we got a crazy cold snap to single digits. They shipped without my knowledge and corrected it and made it right which was appreciated.

thumbnail_IMG_3739.jpgthumbnail_IMG_3735.jpgthumbnail_IMG_3734.jpg
Had this happen to me once, shipping from back east to Cali, when a cold snap hit. Corks were half protruded, I just hammered them back in, and the wines have been fine. But it's a good lesson learned. It takes pretty severe cold weather, and a bit of bad luck, but it can happen.
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#17 Post by adam caldwell » January 22nd, 2020, 9:03 pm

Alan Rath wrote:
January 22nd, 2020, 6:16 pm
adam caldwell wrote:
January 22nd, 2020, 3:10 pm
This is only problem I have had but it has made me a bit more conservative in the winter. This was shipped from east coast to Chicago and we got a crazy cold snap to single digits. They shipped without my knowledge and corrected it and made it right which was appreciated.

thumbnail_IMG_3739.jpgthumbnail_IMG_3735.jpgthumbnail_IMG_3734.jpg
Had this happen to me once, shipping from back east to Cali, when a cold snap hit. Corks were half protruded, I just hammered them back in, and the wines have been fine. But it's a good lesson learned. It takes pretty severe cold weather, and a bit of bad luck, but it can happen.
Yeah this was a bit unlucky with the weather, lows in the -s. There was wine all over the container so most of these got drunk or gifted for immediate consumption because of exposure to air. Oh well Barbaresco popsicles !

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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#18 Post by JonathanG » January 22nd, 2020, 10:02 pm

if I knew how to post pics, I'd post the DRC popcicle pic...
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#19 Post by adam caldwell » January 22nd, 2020, 10:05 pm

JonathanG wrote:
January 22nd, 2020, 10:02 pm
if I knew how to post pics, I'd post the DRC popcicle pic...
I’m new but I just Go to full editor and scroll down to attachments. You didn’t really have a DRC popsicle did you?

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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#20 Post by Alan Rath » January 22nd, 2020, 10:21 pm

adam caldwell wrote:
January 22nd, 2020, 9:03 pm
lows in the -s
Much time below 0F will definitely do it. I’ve had good luck as long as lows don’t get too far into the teens
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#21 Post by Markus S » January 23rd, 2020, 5:05 am

adam caldwell wrote:
January 22nd, 2020, 3:10 pm
This is only problem I have had but it has made me a bit more conservative in the winter. This was shipped from east coast to Chicago and we got a crazy cold snap to single digits. They shipped without my knowledge and corrected it and made it right which was appreciated.

thumbnail_IMG_3739.jpgthumbnail_IMG_3735.jpgthumbnail_IMG_3734.jpg
That looks like a shipment I had sent during one of the Polar Vortexes a few years back. All 6 bottles pushing up daisies.
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#22 Post by Pat Martin » January 24th, 2020, 9:54 am

How important do we think styro is in protecting against cold temps during shipping?

The wine shop I patronize uses styro-free cardboard shippers and I was tempted to ship next week, but the wine could see temps one night of the journey as low as 22-23F.

Sounds like no one here would worry about those lows if in styro, but what about if just in cardboard?

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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#23 Post by Alan Rath » January 24th, 2020, 10:03 am

Pat, you may recall this thread from a few years ago. The general conclusion seemed to be that styro and cardboard are surprisingly not that different:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=129783

I also found this much older thread, FWIW:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=11254
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#24 Post by Pat Martin » January 24th, 2020, 12:26 pm

Thanks, Alan. I hadn't seen that thread before, love all the nerdy data in it!

I decided to ship next week in pulp shippers -- the only concern is the night before it is delivered (when the wine is presumably sitting in the local Fedex warehouse), when the low is forecast to be 22.

I've thought before about doing a simple experiment with freezing risk by putting some cheap wines in a pulp shipper on the back porch overnight in winter to see at what temps the wine freezes at, but I've never gotten around to it (I worry more about freeze risks than heat, as I never ship ground when ambient temps are forecast to be >70 anywhere en route)
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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#25 Post by JonathanG » January 24th, 2020, 9:17 pm

The most expensive popcicle in the world


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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#26 Post by Thomas De Waen » January 25th, 2020, 12:32 am

My understanding is that the issue is with white wine, with tartric acid precipitating in the bottle when exposed to low temps, with resulting white acid flakes popping up. Could be wrong, though.

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Re: When is it too cold to ship wine?

#27 Post by Al Osterheld » January 25th, 2020, 8:27 am

That can happen if the wine wasn't cold stabilized. It's at least as likely with reds (because mostly not cold stabilized), although it may not be noticed as much because people aren't surprised by sediment in reds. It doesn't hurt the wine, though. Note that this is essentially what is done in the cold stabilization process that is used for some white wines.

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