23 July 2006

Ruining Wine by Excess Heat is Not a Lofty Idea

Hmmm, I think I'm safe now. Last week I was up in the loft after my Death Slide giving a good friend a tour (yes, of my loft). It was a very warm day, in fact we all go a little too red as we didn't have any suncream on (stupid people!). I read my thermometre and to my shock at waist level it was 34°ree;C in my loft; at head height it was over 38! This had potential dire consequences - I have *many* bottles of wine in my loft and I don't really want them to cook! We grabbed all the wine racks and bottles and brought them down as quickly as we good and stored them in a shielded cupboard that will be sitting at a constant 20°ree;C. Having had a look at the Wine Doctor's advice on the ideal temperature to store wine I was shocked to find it was between 10°ree;C and 13°ree;C. That is of course for laying down good wines for some time, all the wines I have a modern style wines that need to be drunk within five years of sale (really!). I opened the oldest bottle I had, a Hardy's Crest from 2002. It's a very nice three grape red that comes out the year after, so this one is at least three years old meaning I've had it for about a year and it's been on supermarket shelves for another two. A quick sniff of the cork to pretend I know what I'm doing and oh, cough, splutter, that cork stinks of vinegar! A quick taste of the wine and it's not right. I'm not a huge fan of red wine but even I can tell this is wrong. I decanted it rapidly to improve the taste and it was far more drinkable however going down it has a strange chemically taste. I think it's officially knackered and I'm petrified as to how many other wines I will lose. Neil came around the next day on a matter of urgency to help me open as many bottles as necessary. We tried a white wine which is apparently more susceptible to the heat. Everything is fine there. Fortunately I have another Hardy's Crest, this time from 2004. The cork smells okay which is a big relief and a quick taste later and yes, that's what it should taste like! The 2002 bottle hasn't been cooked it's has simply reacted with the cork that has contained a nasty fungus and it has produced 1,2,4-trichloroanisole. When will they ever learn and just just screw caps or even artificial corks :-( On the plus side my wine is safe, all I have to do now is drink it before the five year deadline!