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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Thursday, July 31 2008. 17:34

UK Stores Stock wine at higher Temperature

In what may be considered ideal storage temperature in India, Fine wines in many leading UK stores have been found stored at temperatures far higher than recommended, with many storing at 22°C or higher – well above the recommended temperature level of 18°C.

In India when a store like the DSIDC, behind Savitri Cinema or Lake Forrest in Gurgaon or Empire Stores in Chandigarh or Nature's Basket in Mumbai stores wines in air-conditioned rooms at around 22-24º C it is a newsworthy item, since most wine shops still stock them at a pathetic 25-40º C

In a study conducted in London and around by Decanter it investigated storage conditions at Fortnum and Mason, Harvey Nichols, Marks & Spencer and other leading local wine stores. The reporter discovered that all these stores, as well as branches of Tesco and Sainsbury's, keep some fine wines at 22°C or higher – well above the recommended temperature level of 18°C.

They at least claim and aim 'to keep all wines at cellar temperature (10-15°C)' with wines out of direct sunlight.

Wine buyer at one of the stores said this was due to very high turnover of stock which mitigated the problem, adding 'we are taking measures to control fluctuating temperatures, such as low-voltage lighting, a heat-reflective covering on the roof, and continually upgrading the air-conditioning.'

This is precisely the reason put forward by the likes of Lake Forrest in Gurgaon at their wholesaling warehouse, where the wines are stored at the room temperature which varies from 6-46º (inside is perhaps not exceeded beyond 36º, in an air-conditioned and open, dusty environment . They planned to air-condition the wine area for more than a year ago and claim the plans are to be executed soon, so that the temperature can be the acceptable 22-24º. Cost of air-conditioning becomes the inhibiting factor most of the times.

Fortnum and Mason in London displayed a $450 Vintage Champagne Salon 1996 at 22°C, as well as Bordeaux and other fine wines.  Sainsbury's and Tesco also displayed fine wines at high temperatures at some of their stores visited.

In a statement issued, Sainsbury's said, 'All our fine wines are fast-moving and remain on-shelf for, on average, no more than a couple of weeks. It is recognised that fine wines, as long as not kept in areas of extreme temperatures do not suffer from short-term periods in temperatures of 20-22°C as recorded recently in one of our stores.'

At Marks & Spencer's huge Oxford Street branch, a bottle of Champagne registered 20-22°C, and a $120, Les Senteurs Clos de Vougeot 2004, read 22°C.

A spokeswoman for M&S said, 'We have never had a comment about our food sections being too hot. If we do get complaints, they are about the sections being too cool. But we do appreciate you letting us know.'

Selfridges was found to have the coolest wines.

Although one hears about the poor storage by many Indian importers who at best keep their wines in air-conditioned environment (with some turning them on frequently- Veritas being a cool exception), storage at the retail shops is generally pathetic to appalling. That is why one hopes and advocates  that with organised retail opening up in air-conditioned environment, the storage conditions will improve a few notches-and acceptable for young wines, at least.

And to the Britons who are suffering with wines stored at the high temperature of 20-22 º C, we say,' You lucky bug….!"


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