Heat Damage from Shipping

Hi WB community - question for the experts here. I recently relocated across the country and had my collection shipped via a temp controlled wine shipping service. When the wine arrived this AM I measured the external temp of a number of bottles and all were 78 - 80 degrees.

The shipping company insists that the wine was stored at cellar temp the whole time and must have warmed up just in the last morning while being moved from their DC to the final mile delivery van. That seems too fast to have warmed up 25+ degrees, but I of course have no good way to refute.

I’ve seen no signs of severe heat damage (bulged corks, etc), but was interested in how this community feels. Would you assume any damage would be minimal and not worry too much, or would you be looking for compensation from the shipping company? I know I’ve seen lots of POV on here for a bottle/case here or there ordered from a seller, but feels like a slightly different conversation given 200+ bottles and a company specifically hired to ship the wine safely.

Interested in your thoughts!

So the service wasn’t refer door to door? Either way it seems sketchy because a large mass of wine in cases all packed together can stay cool for hours even in very high heat.


no bueno. the ambient heat required to raise that mass that much in that amount of time is likely above 100F.

there’s math you can likely do to refute their assertions.

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The service was ‘door to door’, but they contract through different carriers across the country to actually move/warehouse the wine.

I’m hung up in the same place as you both though, it seems like either: 1. it was at room temp or higher much longer than they admit, or 2. the ambient temperature at the end was very severe - (either of which isn’t great for my wine). Maybe I’ll have to get an engineer friends to do some math re. thermal mass, specific heat content, etc.

Glad to know I’m not the only one this didn’t smell right to.


So was it in a refer truck when it arrived at your house? If it was just a regular van, that’s not door to door.


i’d rather see you spend that time on parsing the contract language re: promises made vs promises kept and your rights re: default, insurance, damages, etc.


It was in a reefer van (although apparently not a very cold one) when delivered. The shipping company is saying it must have warmed up when it was moved from the refrigerated portion of the warehouse into the refrigerated van.

It all just doesn’t quite add up and the wine shipping company’s not giving me anything other that ‘there’s no way it was warm for long so it’s fine’. Maybe I just need to play a little more hardball with them, the shipment was insured against ‘temperature damage’ so just the fact it arrived at 80 degrees should be enough to warrant a claim.

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Yeah that’s definitely not possible. It had to sit somewhere for hours and hours to come up to that temp. Best case scenario the refer truck was just a bit off and it was shipped at 70° instead of 60° and then it warmed up a bit from there. That really isn’t any cause for concern. Worst case obviously the chilling was broken and it sat in 100° heat for a portion of the trip.

seems straight forward. you paid for door to door temp controlled shipment and didn’t receive it. They owe you a refund and whatever contractual insurance they provide.


How were you able to determine the temp to be 78 degs? I agree with Andrew… if it was for a short period of time… a few hours… it should be fine.

I measured with an IR themo gun, I’m sure not perfectly calibrated but certainly would be been within a few degrees.

I was reaching the same camp of probably not too big a deal, but I had a friend today make a very good point. If I were to ever want to sell any of the wine, I can no longer guarantee the provenance (in fact all I can be sure is that it was not perfectly held at cellar temp, I just can’t know how far off it was). Not necessarily a big deal for my own personal consumption, but actually likely a huge impact on the valuation of the wine. I wonder if there’s an industry standard for devaluation of wine due to unconfirmed provenance I could use.

In the absence of cork leakage it will be hard to prove damage to the wine. I think this is a complex topic because it remains unclear to me exactly how much heat it takes to damage a wine. There are some posts out there with someone cooking the bottles in the summer and comparing them to non cooked identical bottles blind and it wasn’t clear that the cooked bottles were wrecked or for all that matters any worse for the heat. Personally, I am not too worried about 75-80 degrees for a day (basically that’s high end room temp). Indeed, lots of wine stores have bottles in that range at times for years and they drink pretty well. So sorry for your stress over this - seems like they didn’t do their job very well - but I just don’t know how you prove you were injured other than the emotional stress. And to other’s points - the wine is probably fine.

Was this the same summer or years later? The same summer really isn’t going to tell you much. Poor storage generally doesn’t show up until the wine is aged many years down the road and it tastes older and more developed than it should, but in a unnatural way.

I think the science is tough to understand - here’s some bedtime reading (as in put you to sleep…). I think some general conclusions are that whites are more affected than reds and anything above 15 (59) has a linear affect all the way up to 40 (104) depending on time and temperature. (temperature time equivalence calculation). One of the reference articles says it ages bottles anywhere from 1 - 18 months faster than otherwise (boy that’s a huge range).


That’s blatant BS.