Overheated Bottles

I have six bottles of recently abused (seepage and / or protruding corks) 2007 Vielles Juliennes CdP. The first, which had significant seepage, tasted good last night, much like my prior experience with that wine.

What does a “cooked” wine taste like? Prematurely aged? Stripped of flavor? Oxidized?

Chemically, What is the primary problem? Is there a chemical reaction happening faster due to heat? Or is it that oxygen seeps in as wine seeps out? Something else?

Do the effects of prior abuse get worse with added time if stored in good conditions? In other words should we drink these bottles ASAP, or is that an over-reaction?

Any proposals for a science experiment with the remaining bottles?

Thank you.

A few in the past taste like burnt rubber.

I think it may be difficult to tell the difference between a cooked and a proper bottle of 2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape.


True that!!! [cheers.gif]

I removed similar language from my original post. [cheers.gif]

It tastes like cooked. The same way if you have two strawberries, eat one fresh and cook the other one. The fruit flavor compounds change so that the flavor in the latter becomes cooked / stewed. In the process the wine loses much of its depth and nuance and a wine that might’ve had tons of different fruit flavors suddenly shows just this sweetish, stewed fruit flavor. Not completely unlike raisiny, but still a bit different.

Oxidation is a different thing, but it often happens in tandem with a wine being cooked, because a) chemical processes (like oxygen) happen at a faster rate at higher temperatures; b) often the closure might get compromised in the resulting cork expansion / contraction.

Chemically, What is the primary problem? Is there a chemical reaction happening faster due to heat? Or is it that oxygen seeps in as wine seeps out? Something else?

It’s partly because some volatile compounds evaporate and disappear in higher temperatures, partly because higher temperatures favor formation of certain aromatic compounds that would not develop in cooler temperatures. Higher temperatures can also change the structure of a red wine as it can lead to degradation of tannins and anthocyanins, which might both alter the acidity / pH of a wine and lead to significant browning of the color - even without any extra oxygen seeping in.


I’ll take the other side of the OPs comments - namely that a bottle with obvious signs of damage (eg significant seepage) still tasted “proper”.

I’ve had that happen before as well, and I’ve wondered why that is? Can some wines get exposed to certain heat conditions, and not have the negative chemical reactions? Or is it that a cork leaks for only a short period of time, enough for seepage, but not long enough to damage the wine? I’m wondering about aged wine, not a bottle that might leak and then get drunk soon thereafter.

Otto, would you agree with the following?

If the bottles tasted in the first few days after overheating seem fine on the nose and palate, with no browning, odd stewed fruit notes, oxidized notes, or any other deviance from expected, then I probably have dodged the bullet on adverse chemical reactions. However the fact that there was seepage / cork movement, means the seal can no longer be relied upon.

So my best solution is to drink these over the next few months, and consider this a lesson learned.

Thank you.

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Unless of course it’s in magnum.


I’ve told this story here before, but a friend had a cellar cooling/heating unit where you switched from one to the other in summer and winter, and changed a setting on the thermostat as well. One year in the late spring he changed the thermostat but didn’t change the heater/cooler, so the unit thought that greater cooling was required but pumped out heat instead.

I walked in a couple of days later to pick out some wines for a dinner he was holding and at first didn’t register what was going on! The temperature was 93 degrees, and getting hotter. I unplugged the unit, naturally, and began to assess damage. Some bottles had their corks blown out and were therefore unsalvageable. Some wines had their corks pushed a little, and some of those proved okay over time. The rest had all been exposed to the higher temperature for the same amount of time, but you couldn’t really tell to look at them. And many drank well over the next few years. Some seemed to have progressed a bit faster than they otherwise would have, and a few seemed greatly affected.

Overall I was surprised by how little gross damage occurred. Still, I would have preferred to drink them all sooner than later. One of the most surprising things was that it took me several seconds to register exactly what was wrong when I walked in, because I wasn’t expecting it.

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