Wine Science

Our Research

Wine & Temperature

Despite the great care that goes into the making of fine wine, most wineries, importers and collectors don't have consistent data to assure their wines have been shipped and stored with optimal care.

eProvenance conducted extensive research that determined when wine is exposed to high temperatures, several chemical reactions are sped up and begin to degrade color, taste, aroma and aging ability.

eProvenance Score

As wine is exposed to temperatures above 25° Celsius (77°F) several chemical reactions are accelerated:

  • Oxygen uptake (aroma oxidation)
  • Free sulfur dioxide decline
  • Ethyl carbamate formation
  • Anthocyanin decline (browning)

These reactions have been measured, and all have a common characteristic:

  • They proceed linearly with time
  • They proceed exponentially as temperature rises, at somewhat different rates

Over time, these reactions begin to degrade color, taste, aroma and aging ability.

eProvenance has developed a unique, scientifically-based system to calculate the impact of these reactions and provide the eProvenance Score, which reflects any meaningful changes in the wine quality.

Calculating the eProvenance Score

Our proprietary algorithm delivers the eProvenance Score, revealing the effect of shipment conditions on wine quality. Our system converts ambient temperature to wine temperature (red line), mitigating any temperature spikes before calculating the eProvenance Score.

Graph The eProvenance Score is a measure of wine quality.

The Cold Chain and Why It Matters

A “cold chain” assures wine is kept in a cool, constant environment during transport and storage in order to reduce chemical and bacterial transformations and prolong its life. The ideal temperature range for long-term storage is considered to be 13° to 15° Celsius (55° to 59°F). However, for transport or storage over a period of several weeks or months, a range of 10° to 20°C is optimal and 5° to 25°C is acceptable. This cool, constant environment must be maintained by each individual link in the distribution chain – if one member of the chain fails to maintain the required conditions, the cold chain is broken.

Temperature fluctuations (primarily heat) during storage and transit cause far more damage to wine than is generally understood. If wine is exposed to too high a temperature, in excess of 25°C (77°F), for long periods of time, it may be spoiled or ”cooked“ and develop off-flavors that taste “raisiny” or stewed. While only the most egregious instances (corks pushing) result in visible damage, significant damage occurs inside the bottle before visible signs appear. Scientific studies commissioned by eProvenance have shown that temperatures in excess of 27°C (81°F) for more than 36 hours permanently degrade the wine in terms of flavor, aroma, color, and longevity. Similarly, damage to the wine can occur in just 18 hours at 30°C (86°F) and in just 10 hours at 34°C (93°F). Between 27°C, when the damage can begin, and the mid 30s°C (95°F), when the cork pushes, there is no indication of damage until you drink the wine, which may be years later.

Results, based on millions of measurements by eProvenance sensors, show the following picture of global shipments today:

Percentage of shipments reaching above 25°C (77°F) Shipments

The Impact of Cold Temperatures on Wine

Everyone knows hot temperatures over extended periods damage wine. However, cold temperatures also have the capacity to damage the wine in several ways:

  • At 5°C (40°F) tartaric acid and potassium precipitate out of the wine and form what appears to be broken glass in the bottom of the bottle.
  • At 0°C (32°F) pigments, tannins and other components of wine ”body“ drop out of the wine.
  • At -6°C (21°F) wine at 12.5% ethanol will freeze in 3-4 days, pushing the cork and/or breaking the bottle. At -18°C (0°F) this same bottle will freeze solid in seven hours.

We know monitoring shipments and storage conditions lowers instances of damage. eProvenance believes we can all do much better to protect wine quality.

To learn more, please contact eProvenance.