Toronto – Canada






Protecting The Family Jewels




Allow me to walk you through an actual scenario which should strike fear into the hearts of wine collectors everywhere.


A family (okay, mostly the husband…. okay, only the husband) spends 20 years slowly building a wine collection.  They develop a lovely mix of investment grade wines but also wines that they have brought back from the far-reaching corners of the globe.  Mementos from wineries visited on their travels, they can be enjoyed with friends as they reminisce on subtle nuances of their trips without having to pull out an iPad and bore the table with their unedited thousands of poor shot snaps…but I digress.


Winter arrives and they head to their home in Sarasota, only to return to the Northeast as the weather warms.  The husband descends to the cellar, opens the door, and is hit with a waft of heat.  The cooling system pushes out hot air from a motor that has continued to run while the rest of the unit died.  Bottles are leaking through corks that are now protruding all over the cellar. The excessive heat has caused all of the bottles to prematurely age but, to what extent, one never knows.  A first growth destined to be consumed in the next 10-20 years might only have 2 more years of sub-standard life in it.  Such is the result of sudden heat damage.


We come across this scenario (maybe a little less dramatic) a number of times a year.  What makes it particularly unfortunate is that it’s preventable for a pittance.  Technology today allows for an inexpensive temperature monitor, connected to the internet, that would sound an alarm if the temperature rises above a predetermined figure like 60F.  A cellar targeted at 55F, sealed and working properly,should never experience this unless something is very wrong.  The system then sends email and text alerts to the owner, the security company and maybe even a neighbor who doesn’t travel over the winter.  The short-term remedy is simply to cut power and allow time to have the system replaced.  The wines will be fine and unaffected in a basement cellar, or even a room temperature cellar, for up to a month.


The cost for this ounce of prevention…about $25 a month.  The cheapest insurance you’ll ever buy.


It seems odd to dedicate an entire column on wine to the prevention of a single incident,but mark my words.  Cooling systems willbreak at some point.  Then try retracing your steps to replace wines that are no longer for sale. Your memories are now relegated to iPad albums.  Don’t get me started.



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