Wine shopping is a favorite past time of mine. Whether I am at the grocer, warehouse club, or local wine shop, I love buying wine. One of the primary ways I shop for wine is online. There is nothing more exciting — for me than getting a wine shipment delivery.
The available options for purchasing wine online are endless — winery direct, wine clubs, wine shops, and wine auctions to name some.
THE HISTORY OF WINE SHIPPING
Wine shipping has been around for centuries. Although, thousands of years ago the ancient processes were generally used to ship wine in bulk using large vessels. Glass eventually was actualized to be the perfect way to store wine. Which, transformed the shipping process forever.
While glass has vastly improved the process — cutting down on broken bottles and preventing the wine from turning to vinegar — it did not eliminate all of the shipping pangs. Today some of the same issues remain as back in age-old times; temperature fluctuations, packaging, and air exposure.
COLD VS HEAT
Temperatures play a significant role when it comes to a wine shipment. Shipping wine in the warmer months can lead to heat damage. High temperatures create a weakened seal allowing the juice to make contact with air. On-the-other-hand, shipping wine in the colder months, when temperatures can drop below freezing can also lead to damage.
New to you? New to me too! Especially, when I always believed that the colder months were better for wine shipments. Imagine my surprise — clearly, dumbfounded.
Recently I received a wine shipment which I ordered several weeks prior. I must note that this was the second attempt for this particular order — the first was returned to the shipper by UPS when some damage occurred en route. The details were never disclosed.
Anyway, upon opening the box, I immediately noticed that one of the bottles had a cork that had penetrated the seal.
During frigid and fluctuating cold temperatures the water in wine can freeze creating expansion and forcing the cork from the bottle. This apparently is what occurred with one of my bottles. Although no other corks burst through, my biggest concern; had all of the bottles frozen at some point during the transport. Was my wine still good?
Over the years I have had a multitude of wine shipped to me, in both warm and cold temperatures, but never had I experienced anything like this. Therefore, I took to social media — Instagram — for insight. (You can check all of the responses here).
There was a range of solutions and advice from my wine-world peers (all extremely credible).
Here is what a few of them had to say (if you have an IG account I recommend you follow them):
@drinkwhatyoulike, “I’d ‘return to sender.’ “
@armchairsomm, “I’ve had this happen before, too!…
@Issacjamesbaker, “Whoa really? I’ve received so many wines in the coldest weather and never had the happed. …
@winestudiotina, “More often than not the wine is fine. Let them sit at cellar temp”…
Ultimately, I ended up calling the shipper — Bottle Barn, they gladly refunded the cost for the damaged bottle. I elected to keep the other bottles. As for the popped cork, I placed the wine in a cool place to rest. In a few days, I will remove the cork, pour a glass, and…
Wine Shipment Tips
Here are a few tips that might help you with your wine shipments.
- Pay close attention to the weather. Upon request, most wine shippers will hold your order and ship it when weather conditions are most favorable.
- Keep in mind that the closer the shipper is to the destination the shorter the distance the wine has to travel. Limiting the shipping distance increases the odds that your wine will arrive undamaged.
- Always let your wine rest in a cool place for several days before popping the cork (I prefer at least a week). Jostling and shaking during transport can create bottle shock.
- Wine shipment deliveries require an adult signature. Shipment destinations must have someone over 21 years of age available to sign for them.
- Always check the shipping policies prior to purchase.
- Do not hesitate to contact the shipper if you experience any issues with your wine.
As always, I recommend purchasing wine from your local retail establishments whenever possible. However, in those instances when you do have wine shipped, following a few basic guidelines will help to ensure the bottles arrive intact.