The exposure of wine to elevated temperatures has a profound impact on its aging reactions and its sensory quality, shelf life and healthfulness. This study monitored the exposure of wine to heat during commercial shipments through the national distribution chain from wineries to wholesalers across the USA under extreme but realistic conditions. The results document the exposure of wine shipments in regular non-refrigerated containers with different types of external and internal insulation. During the months of summer and early autumn, wines shipped to or via hot geographic locations were frequently exposed to temperatures above 24°C and often for extended periods of time. Under the most extreme shipping conditions, wines would have been exposed to temperatures of up to 44°C. Notable diurnal fluctuations (4–21°C) were observed. The accumulated heat exposure of the wines was calculated using ethyl carbamate formation as a wine quality indicator and different kinetic models for wine aging were applied to make a comparison with wine storage under empirically ideal cellar conditions. These calculations suggest that some wines were exposed to heat during transport that corresponded to an added bottle age between 1 and 18 months when compared with conventional cellar storage. (We recommend that you consult the full text of this article)