Select a sparkling wine that will add thirst-quenching fizz to any glass.by Jérôme Chambon
Before arriving at your table, a bottle of wine has travelled extensively, especially if it is an imported wine.
Most of the time wines travel by sea, and the containers transporting them are supposedly placed under the sea mark of the ship to avoid too intense movements in the bottle and to keep them at a cool temperature. Sometimes a thermo-kit is added to the container to avoid violent temperature variations when the container is exposed to heat. A few importers even use refer containers to transport their most delicate and expensive wines. These containers can keep the wine at 15 degrees, but they are three to four times more expensive than a standard container.
Air freight is used only when the wine is urgently needed because it is the most expensive way to ship wines. Besides, there is more risk of thermal shock on arrival.
The quality of storage during transportation depends on multiple factors, including the route, the time of year, the mode of transportation, and the packaging. But the most important factor for the good conservation of wine is temperature.
The ideal temperature for a container containing wine for maritime transportation is between 10 and 20 degrees, with a spread of 5 to 25 degrees still being acceptable. Beyond this range the wine might be damaged. At less than 8 degrees the wine is not ageing anymore, but natural corks will shrink, initiating leaking and oxidation. Above 25 degrees, wines will oxidize.
The worst treatment for a wine is a violent and extreme temperature variation. Such an event can alter the quality of the wine, transforming the even the most exquisite Burgundy into an infamous and undrinkable liquid. After sea freight transportation, wines should rest at least for two weeks before being opened for consumption.
In his Wine Buyer’s Guide No. 7, Robert Parker writes that too many wines are still damaged by poor transportation and storage, and that between 10 and 25 percent of the wines sold in the United States have been damaged because of exposure to extremes of heat. In Thailand, where the temperature is above 30 degrees Celsius most of the time, this issue is essential.
But heat is not the only wine’s enemy. Light and more particularly neon light can affect the quality of wine, as can vibrations and humidity, which should be kept at around 75 percent. So when picking up a bottle of wine at the store, consumers should always check i’s general appearance and more particularly look for any trace of leakage.
Wine is a living product, which evolves naturally and must be carefully protected before consumption.