'Cooked' Wine

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'Cooked' Wine

Postby Oliver McCrum » Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:17 pm

I have seen more and more references to 'cooked' wine on the internet in the last few years. It would appear that wines that don't show as expected are often thought to be 'cooked,' although the symptoms seem to vary widely and one of the supposed symptoms (that the wine shows little or no change for some years and is then ruined) makes no sense. (I am not talking about wines with obvious visual signs of exposure to heat, such as 'pushed' corks and leakage.) Other symptoms sound to me suspiciously like random oxidation due to cork failure (anything in the caramelly range, for example, as was raised here recently).

What does the board think? Are wines not obviously abused often nonetheless flawed? If so, what's the evidence?
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby Thomas » Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:51 pm

Oliver,

I have no answer to your questions, but I do understand your concern. It is a problem that many flaws are misidentified, but the solution to the problem is not so easy. It requires that wine consumers seek training to identify the many potential flaws. It's a hell of a lot easier to just take a guess or believe what someone else says... ;)
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Mar 20, 2008 9:56 pm

Thanks for bringing up this subject Oliver. For me (pure guesswork) its that oxidized taste on the finish especially with reds. Also nutty sherry springs to mind!
I did however find this on Chris Kissicks website..>

http://www.thewinedoctor.com/advisory/tastefaulty.shtml
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby Covert » Fri Mar 21, 2008 5:49 am

Oliver McCrum wrote:Are wines not obviously abused often nonetheless flawed? If so, what's the evidence?


I've had a lot of experience with cooked wines. The characteristics vary in intensity, but one thing is that they taste like oxidized wine with bad breath. Oxidation alone tastes like oxidation, cooked wine tastes bad. You say to yourself, even if it is just a little cooked, that the wine gives no pleasure.
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby Dale Williams » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:11 am

I've had plenty of wines I felt that were cooked that didn't show external signs. A bottle that sits at 80 degrees for a month (or years at 74)is unlikely to have a leaky corked or pushed capsule. I bought some Chateau and Estates Bordeaux from '96-'98 vintages from a couple of NJ retailers at very good prices a few years ago. All bottles looked fine. But every one I opened seemed pruney compared to bottles of the same I had bought on release. Then I sat at a dinner next to a ITB acquaintance who casually mentioned that C&E was dumping a lot of wine that apparently sat in a non-refrigerated warehouse for years. Aha.

I've consistently encountered the same symptoms (pruney edge in red wines, fruit reminds one of jam/cooked fruit rather than fresh, usually short finish)in wines from a couple of local retailers - now I know not to patronize them (places that sell a lot of liquor, Bolla, Walnut Crest,etc- not real fine wine specialists).

I think most of us are too quick to decide what is wrong with wines when we find them not up to standards, whether our personal bugaboo is storage, closure, or whatevr. I do think that while overall I think things have gotten better, a lot can still be done to improve the care of wines along the distribution chain. I've seen warm bottles be sent back from a good store, but I bet someone got them.
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby Thomas » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:23 am

Dale Williams wrote:I think most of us are too quick to decide what is wrong with wines when we find them not up to standards, whether our personal bugaboo is storage, closure, or whatevr.


Exactly. Guessing what's wrong isn't necessarily going to get you to what's wrong.

I do think that while overall I think things have gotten better, a lot can still be done to improve the care of wines along the distribution chain. I've seen warm bottles be sent back from a good store, but I bet someone got them.


I remember when I had the shop in Manhattan many small distributors used a certain trucking company that in summer would deliver wines to the store and the bottles were steaming. When I refused those deliveries I was labeled difficult to deal with!
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby JC (NC) » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:51 am

Similar to what Dale said I think stewed fruit may be a symptom of a cooked wine. I took several bottles of wine to an offline in the Finger Lakes but flew the day the airlines had an air traffic control computer crash. The plane sat on the tarmac at LaGuardia for about four hours in 80+ heat with my wines in the cargo hold with labeling saying "fragile" and "limit exposure to heat." Nothing to be done about it. None of the wines tasted right when opened. They were dull, flat or resembled stewed fruit.
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby Thomas » Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:54 am

JC (NC) wrote:Similar to what Dale said I think stewed fruit may be a sympton of a cooked wine. I took several bottles of wine to an offline in the Finger Lakes but flew the day the airlines had an air traffic control computer crash. The plane sat on the tarmac at LaGuardia for about four hours in 80+ heat with my wines in the cargo hold with labeling saying "fragile" and "limit exposure to heat." Nothing to be done about it. None of the wines tasted right when opened. They were dull, flat or resembled stewed fruit.


Yes, and stewed fruit can also be a sign of overripe grapes to begin with, although in this case, the wines being Finger Lakes, overripe grapes is unlikely plus, you had clear evidence of possible cooking. That's a much better guess than most people get to make.
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby JC (NC) » Fri Mar 21, 2008 11:52 am

Actually, Thomas, the wines weren't from the Finger Lakes. I was taking them to share while visiting the Finger Lakes, but I don't think overripe fruit was the culprit in this case since I had tasted some of the same vintages/labels before and found them vibrant and youthful.
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby James Roscoe » Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:39 pm

Would the percentage of "cooked" bottles exceed the 'ercentage of "corked" bottles? I run into "off" flavors all the time which fit the profiles described. They are much more common than TCA taint, although I am not particularly sensitive to TCA.
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby Mark Lipton » Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:13 pm

I think one of the most important factors in specifying faults in a wine is being able to make a comparison, ideally with a non-faulty bottle of the same wine. Low level TCA taint, subtle heat damage or low level oxidation problems are hard to be sure about until you do a head-to-head comparison with an undamaged sample. Short of that, being able to compare a damaged wine to a similar, undamaged wine can be useful. Regarding the prevalence, a few people I know with lots of experience with older wines have told me that the prevalence of subtle heat damage in older wines is very high.

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Cooked Wines...My TwoCentavos...

Postby TomHill » Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:21 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:I have seen more and more references to 'cooked' wine on the internet in the last few years. It would appear that wines that don't show as expected are often thought to be 'cooked,' although the symptoms seem to vary widely and one of the supposed symptoms (that the wine shows little or no change for some years and is then ruined) makes no sense. (I am not talking about wines with obvious visual signs of exposure to heat, such as 'pushed' corks and leakage.) Other symptoms sound to me suspiciously like random oxidation due to cork failure (anything in the caramelly range, for example, as was raised here recently).
What does the board think? Are wines not obviously abused often nonetheless flawed? If so, what's the evidence?


Oliver,
I've had very few wines that I thought were obviously "cooked". I'm not sure I even know what a "cooked" wine actually tastes like. Blame it on lack of experience, I guess.
I've had wines that I know have stood upright on a retailers shelf for 4-5-6 yrs, whites mostly, that have a slightly nutty/oxidized character. Are these "cooked" or just from simple cork failure. I've also had, whites & reds, wines I've known to stand upright on shelves for 5-6 yrs, that also taste perfectly fine. As good as the correctly stored brethern?? Who knows?
I think people will oftentimes try a wine that does not meet their expectations and dismiss its poor showing to being "cooked", in a "dumb phase", or suffering still from "travel shock" (you&I have talked this subject before), some unknown malady. They're unwilling to consider the possibility that their expectations may be misplaced.
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby James Roscoe » Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:27 pm

Tom, who is wise beyond his years, is expressing my thoughts as well. Are we really just having poor wine?
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby Oliver McCrum » Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:54 pm

The sad truth is that until we find an alternative to cork there will be wide variation in bottles from the same case, treated identically; how one could seperate out other supposed subtle flaws I have no idea.

Tom, didn't you do an experiment with this once?
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby Oliver McCrum » Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:55 pm

JC (NC) wrote:Similar to what Dale said I think stewed fruit may be a symptom of a cooked wine. I took several bottles of wine to an offline in the Finger Lakes but flew the day the airlines had an air traffic control computer crash. The plane sat on the tarmac at LaGuardia for about four hours in 80+ heat with my wines in the cargo hold with labeling saying "fragile" and "limit exposure to heat." Nothing to be done about it. None of the wines tasted right when opened. They were dull, flat or resembled stewed fruit.


Are you saying that four hours at 80 degrees constitutes 'cooked?'
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Re: Cooked Wines...My TwoCentavos...

Postby Oliver McCrum » Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:05 pm

TomHill wrote:Oliver,
I've had very few wines that I thought were obviously "cooked". I'm not sure I even know what a "cooked" wine actually tastes like. Blame it on lack of experience, I guess.
I've had wines that I know have stood upright on a retailers shelf for 4-5-6 yrs, whites mostly, that have a slightly nutty/oxidized character. Are these "cooked" or just from simple cork failure. I've also had, whites & reds, wines I've known to stand upright on shelves for 5-6 yrs, that also taste perfectly fine. As good as the correctly stored brethern?? Who knows?
I think people will oftentimes try a wine that does not meet their expectations and dismiss its poor showing to being "cooked", in a "dumb phase", or suffering still from "travel shock" (you&I have talked this subject before), some unknown malady. They're unwilling to consider the possibility that their expectations may be misplaced.
Tom


Lack of experience my ass. You probably taste more widely than I do.

Agree completely. I have heard the word 'cooked' used with complete confidence about wines with all sorts of different supposed flaws. They can't all be right.

That said, I probably spend $12,000 or more a year to ship in refrigerated containers, so I'm not cavalier about the possibility of heat damage.
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby Dale Williams » Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:11 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:The sad truth is that until we find an alternative to cork there will be wide variation in bottles from the same case, treated identically; how one could seperate out other supposed subtle flaws I have no idea.


I am no cork fan, and buy alternatives when I can. But unlike Mr Hill, I'm pretty sure I've run across quite a few cooked bottles. In the Seagrams case I cited, It's unlikely that all of the corks on the wines I bought on release happened to be sound, while 90% of the ones from the wines I bought on sale a couple years later ('98 La Tour Figeac, '96 > Gloria, '97 Pavie-Mac) happened to be faulty.

If Oliver and Tom truly believe that heat damage is that rare, there are some sellers on Winecommune (apparently recovery companies) with some very cheap buys, they should jump on it. I'm sure that Tom is happy with wine shipped in July, and keeps all his wine in a closet. Oliver, use reefers?

I don't think that heat damage is always visible, I've seen wine shipped in summer where 2 bottles in a case leaked. Personally, I don't want those other 10 bottles.

I'm sure that there are many false cries of cooked. But to shrug off the possibility of heat damage because maybe it was a bad cork is trading one issue that deserves attention for another.
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Re: Cooked Wines...My TwoCentavos...

Postby Dale Williams » Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:12 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:That said, I probably spend $12,000 or more a year to ship in refrigerated containers, so I'm not cavalier about the possibility of heat damage.


Answers one of my questions :)
(apparently posts crossed)
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby JC (NC) » Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:13 pm

Yes, I'm saying that four hours at over 80 degrees in a cargo hold of a plane sitting on the tarmac results in "cooked" wine. We were on that plane about 3 hours plus of that time and part of the time without air conditioning to conserve fuel, and we, the passengers, were definitely feeling cooked. Just as small children and dogs can perish in a car left in the sun because the heat inside is worse than the outside temperature, the interior of the plane grew oppressively hot on that June day. The temperatures in the cargo hold may have been in the upper 90's for all I know.
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Yup....

Postby TomHill » Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:49 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:Tom, didn't you do an experiment with this once?


Oliver,
In a study my LosAlamos group did on travelling effects on wine. Two btls of each wine. One set stored in wine cellar..
The "travelled" btls were stuck in fridge at night, average temp in mid-30F. During the day, they were stuck out in a
solar greenhouse. For the whites, average daily temp about 78F, getting up to about 95F. For the reds, avg daily temp
For the reds, avg daily temps were about 115F, getting up to 128F max, 92F min. At each transfer from fridge--> solar
greenhouse, the "travelled" btls were shooken vigorously as only the wrist of an epee guy could do. On the wines stored
in the greenhouse, they were stood upright. In a couple of btls showed movement of corks by around 1/4", as I recall.
Did the A/B blind comparison on the 6 whites/6 reds. On the 95% confidence level, we could detect no case for a "travelling"
effect. Certainly, I did not detect any "cooked" character in any of the wines.
Of course, this is a badly flawed study if you already know the "truth". No way that we could guarantee the wines were identical
before we did the "travelling", that was just assumed. The temps didn't get high enough. The colds didn't get cold enough. I only did
the "travelling" on the wines for 1 week. The "travelled" wines should have rested in the cellar 1.64 weeks, instead of the 2 days we used.
They were still suffering from the "travelling" when I brought the wines back from the store a month before.
An on & on & on. But I felt the study, brutal as it was, suggested that the "travelling" effect may be overstated.
As far as the question of "cooked" wines, the study has no relevance. Especially if you know that 4 hrs at 90F will "cook" a wine.
Some would argue that this "cooked" character will not show up in the wine until 2.3, or 5.9, or 11.472 yrs down the road and you can't
taste "cooked" character in a wine immediately. Could be they're right...I'm clueless.
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Mar 21, 2008 4:16 pm

I think Oliver is on target. "Cooked" is often used generically for "damaged" in cases where it's frankly not really possible to be more specific in some cases.

I have long been fond of this simple little story, which I intended to cast light on just one facet of "cooked" wine ...

http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvis ... 0618.shtml

Short answer, I believe cooking (heat) compromises longevity, but I'm not as persuaded as some that cooking confers a short-term "stewed" or other quality that can be consistently picked out with even the level of confidence of cork taint or Brett.
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:10 pm

As always it depends on the severity of the heat.

Some time in 80+ degree heat (hours/days, not minutes - too much thermal mass in a bottle of wine for instantaneous damage) will irreparably damage wine, but that damage may not be apparent for days, weeks or years. If the wine is to be consumed soon then perhaps anything but significant heating (e.g. being let in the back seat of a closed car in summer) is not that big a deal.

The problem is in aging the wine. Perfect provenance does yield better wine. Heat exposure either in transit or in a shop will ruin the wine's potential. I've had enough prematurely aged bottles that I could readily compare with well stored examples to know that heat damage is a fact of life.

Is it always possible to tell the difference between faulty cork and heat? Likely no. Does that really matter to me as a consumer? Absolutely not. If the bottle is compromised it's compromised.
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby Victorwine » Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:24 pm

From the winedoctor: “When a wine is exposed to high temperatures, the liquid expands and several things may happen. The expansion of the wine may force the cork from the neck of the bottle, pushing it up under the capsule. Or the wine may expand and leak around the cork. In either case, when the liquid cools it will contract, and this may result in air seeping in around the cork leading to a further problem, oxidation.”
I think the winedoctor makes it perfectly clear, but does simplify it way to much. As a wine is exposed to high temperatures it begins to expand, molecules and atoms get excited, collisions occur, and chemical reactions take place. Hopefully due to the nature of the wine at the time of high temperature exposure only “positive” chemical reactions take place and the wine only “prematurely” ages. If “negative” chemical reactions occur the wine is apparently “cooked”. (This definitely could occur in wines under screw-cap).
It goes on to say that due to the exposure to high temperature and expansion of the wine the natural cork can be forced from the neck of the bottle, pushing it up under the capsule. This could cause leakage. As the liquid cools a partial vacuum is created inside the bottle and “unwanted” air can be “sucked” in. This is clearly oxidation (totally different flaw, now amplifying the”cooked” wine possible making it “undrinkable”). The “rate” or “amount” of oxidation of a screw cap bottle that has been “cooked” will be determined by the nature of the metal foil and liner and determined by how much it expands during the exposure to high temperature.
As David pointed out it all depends on the severity of the heat and time duration.
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Re: 'Cooked' Wine

Postby Oliver McCrum » Sun Mar 23, 2008 3:42 am

David M. Bueker wrote:As always it depends on the severity of the heat.

Some time in 80+ degree heat (hours/days, not minutes - too much thermal mass in a bottle of wine for instantaneous damage) will irreparably damage wine, but that damage may not be apparent for days, weeks or years. If the wine is to be consumed soon then perhaps anything but significant heating (e.g. being let in the back seat of a closed car in summer) is not that big a deal.

The problem is in aging the wine. Perfect provenance does yield better wine. Heat exposure either in transit or in a shop will ruin the wine's potential. I've had enough prematurely aged bottles that I could readily compare with well stored examples to know that heat damage is a fact of life.

Is it always possible to tell the difference between faulty cork and heat? Likely no. Does that really matter to me as a consumer? Absolutely not. If the bottle is compromised it's compromised.


What's the basis for 'may not be apparent for days, weeks, or years'? I've seen this suggested many times on the internet but have never understood how it was possible.
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