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Transporting wine in car


We will be traveling through France in next couple of weeks picking up couple of cases of wine on the way. Temps are in their high twenties less so at night. Traveling with small child so taking wine in / out car is not ideal. No space for massive cooler esp considering how much we are bringing back.

What are some thoughts how to keep temps reasonable not to damage? Maybe cover with insulation sheet and put some ice pack in boxes to keep cool?

Wine has a nice space where tires is as car has run flats.


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I always take loads of tea towels and wrap the bottles in them, individually and in groups. The thinking is several-fold, in that it stops them clinking, protects from light, and also creates thermal mass. On the last point, it’s also ideal if your boot is crammed full of stuff. It doesn’t warm up fully even in the height of summer. (Your wine then is best located centrally in it all :grinning:).


All the above advice is good, but remember isulation alone only works in slowing down heating - if environment is hot it will get to your wine given enough time.

That said, I wouldn’t worry too much - just take sensible precautions where possible.

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Many more cases of different wines, that’s the answer = Increased thermal mass + hedges your bet against risk of a duff case. Possibly pack in bubble-wrap to protect from jarring & give thermal insulation. Then several months rest back in Blighty before opening.

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I’d avoid this as far as possible, and plan to buy from a retailer in the north of France.

If it has to be done, make sure the car is never parked in the sun under any circumstances.

Temperatures in last few days have been well over 30 in most of Southern France.

I’ve done numerous two-day car journeys from southern France where wine has been exposed to fluctuations on temperature due to aircon, being parked in the sun, being left in the car overnight etc.

I’ve never noticed any adverse effects at all, but then again I’ve mainly brought back cheapish supermarket wine rather than anything too special I’d want to mollycoddle.

I’ve never had any trouble and I’ve brought wine back from Italy, Spain, Luxembourg as well as France.

However, I had a delivery to my car in the company mutli-storey car park in Sydney, Australia many years ago. I transferred those allotted to one chap with a Datsun 240Z and some of his pushed their corks out somewhat. Even with that heat none of mine were affected and everyone else took their wine home in good condition.

Hasn’t the concept of ‘resting’ been debunked?

Indeed it has - except I genuinely believe it helps ! - possibly its a psychological thing, one needs to forget the price and hassle involved in getting that bottle of wine.

One year I went to Napa valley and as you do bought 6 bottles of wine. Thought nothing of storage and headed in to Death Valley and stopped for a couple of hours at Furnace Creek. Came back to car opened boot and nearly went in to shock as the bottles were doing a good impression of getting ready for mulling.

I thought it was a complete disaster but decided to consume the wines fairly quickly on return (following 6 months). They were as nice as I remember the samples in the vineyard but I suspect it would not have helped if I had planned a longer cellaring.

I am sure a link somewhere on a thread here had a technical paper on the age acceleration of heat. Guess it depends how much of what you buy you plan to keep for any length of time if you suffer an excessive hot spell.

I’ve never believed it, but was unaware of any debunkery. Does anyone have references/links?

One used to hear of whether a wine “travelled well”. I never really understood if this meant that it was spoiled by the transit, or if, as I’m sure we’ve all experienced, a wine sipped in its own territory, with the sun shining, local food and a beautiful view, is never quite the same accompanying a cold, drizzly Bank holiday barbecue.

I managed to do exactly the same thing! Plus storing in the car boot whilst in Yosemite for a few days…

There was a time when wine shipped from Bordeaux to Blighty would spoil during the journey, or soon after. The most drinkable wines were nearly always the youngest, and wines that kept until the next vintage were highly valued.

That would be before SO2 was used on a regular basis, and winery hygiene was poor. 17th century? Adding brandy, as they did for Port and Sherry, helped.

I think that was when some wines were first said not to “travel well”. Driving across France with modern wine in the boot, is a whole lot less risky.

Must admit I am not 100% sure of all those factoids, but I could try to dig out some references. I fancy I read most of them in HJ’s History of Wine.

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I think that’s more to do with our state of mind when ‘on location’ than any meaningful impact of travel on the wine. I think how we feel affects our experiences quite a lot.


I agree that state of mind is hugely important, but I do also suspect that the physical (e.g. temperature) and chemical (e.g. ambient aromas from vegetation) environment can also affect the perception of wine.

I was recently reading how the aroma-free environment of the Antarctic seems to accentuate the aromas/flavours of wine. That’s only anecdotal evidence, but it seems very plausible to me.


When we stayed in Yosemite we were told in no uncertain terms to remove all food and drink to prevent the bears breaking into the car. I somewhat incredulously asked if the bears would go after wine under cork, and was assured they would. If the deposit on the hire car hadn’t been so eye-watering I would have tested that theory - a few of the bottles would have been worth the sacrifice to encounter a bear the next morning drunkenly snoozing off the night before. I suspect they were being over cautious…

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We once had a baboon on the back seat of the car at Cape Point, while my wife was still in it, when I left the boot open for a few seconds. There was no food at all there but it came to have a look anyway.

See this thread:

Ah yes - there’s the MW Thesis. When it was mentioned in that thread I believe I tried to acccess it, but failed. But I have it now, and shall definitely read it.

I think one of the problems is that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to demonstrate the lack of an effect. However much effort you put it, you are always vulnerable to the charge that the sensitivty of your experiment was not good enough, or that you did not look at a set of conditions that might have demonstrated it.

Anyway, thank you for the reminder