Shipping Wine in Winter January 12, 2016 12:43

When shipping in winter the goal is to avoid a frozen bottle of wine. Wine does not mind being cold. There is usually no harm done by being cold.. You may get some sediment, precipitation of tartrates. This does not effect quality or hurt the wine.

I have never found a wine to be wrecked by freezing. But when wine freezes into hard ice problems with packaging can happen. Wine like any liquid expands as it freezes. Inside the bottle there is not a lot of room for expansion. This is not good for the package. Two things can happen. You may have simulated this by putting a bottle in your freezer to cool it down quickly and forgetting it.

  1. The cork gets pushed out. This is called "cork push"
  2. The bottle can crack. 

 Cork Push  It can get pushed just a 1/4 inch or as in this example all the way out of the bottle.

When you have cork push the wine is fine, but the seal of the bottle has been compromised. Worse things could happen.  You want to drink that wine right away like any opened bottle. Have a nice glass of that wine soon.

The are the steps I take to safeguard shipments from winter weather extremes
(< 29F) 
  • Most common is to institute a shipping moratorium; this means save and hold your purchase until spring or until an extreme cold front passes. 
  • Closely monitor forecasts to then time shipments for the best weather conditions. Ship for delivery during that window.
  • Package shipments in styrofoam. (See blog- Packaging for Wine Shipping. What is the best?)

There is seldom an absolute nationwide shipping moratorium. It depends on timing and place. Weather in winter. January and February are the most brutal months in the north for cold. If you live in the north you know this. You probably intuitively know that wine may freeze.