Think Before You buy: Is Retail Wine Storage Affecting Your Wine?

On a recent trip to a big warehouse club, I noticed some incredible markdowns on super high end wines.


A markdown is when the retailer lowers the price to clear out their inventory, making space for a product that they hope to sell more of.  A markdown is usually denoted by the price ending in the number 7.  For example, this store had 2001 Chris Ringland Shiraz on sale for $399.97.  A quick search on my smartphone revealed that the online price for this wine ranges between $550 and $999.  The 2001 Chris Ringland Shiraz was rated 100 points by Robert Parker and only 60 cases of this wine were produced.  I was very surprised to see it in a big warehouse club!

I looked at the bottle and started salivating…should I? Shouldn’t I?  How will I afford to eat for the next month if I buy this wine?  I looked at the bottle, standing upright in a Plexiglas enclosure with a lock on it.
Then I began thinking…about the proper storage of high end wines
How long has this wine been sitting upright?  What is the temperature inside the store? 70F?  Has the UV light shining down through the opaque skylight caused any negative changes in the wine? In Arizona, where I live, there is such a high level of UV light outside that you can almost get a tan sitting indoors off the secondary UV light!  Now, the store in question only opened last October, so I know that at least the wine hasn’t been in that particular environment for very long.  But where was it kept before hand?  At a distributor’s warehouse?  Unconditioned? Through the Phoenix summer, where temperatures regularly exceed 115 Fahrenheit, or 46 Celsius, for all my metric friends.  How was the wine delivered? 

truck trailer

How did the wine get here?

How did it get from the Barossa Valley in Australia all the way over to Phoenix, Arizona?  So many questions and the answers I kept coming up with lead me to believe that somehow this 100 point wine was not kept under ideal conditions, and therefore no longer a 100 point wine.  On the other hand…how sensitive is wine?  Do serious connoisseurs baby wine too much and spend too much money on unnecessary storage set ups?

This article was edited by Jon Troutman

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