Damaged/ spoilt Wine- Expert or MW required for opinion

Hi can anyone help please .

My specialist wine fridge broke down last summer and was out of action until the winter . As a result a lot of my fine wine spoilt .

I’m looking for someone who can express an expert opinion on the storage of wine and temperature fluctuation . Happy to pay for the services !

If any one has some suggestions please let me know

Many thanks Neil

My specialist wine fridge broke down last summer and was out of action until the winter . As a result a lot of my fine wine spoilt .

Are you sure it’s spoilt? I’d be very surprised if a lot, or maybe any were spoilt. Unless your fridge was cooking the wine or it was in a very hot place. A few months at room temperature shouldn’t make much difference.

This is not an expert opinion, just that of someone who often keeps wine 10-30 years without a fridge, and without it spoiling.


Thanks Andy, the cooler is meant to replicate cellar conditions and was set around 11 degrees .

Before it broke the temperature hit a minimum of 18 degrees, they reset it wrongly , we then had temperatures of mid 20c inside during the summer .

I lost quite a few old whites , they were brown and quite vinegarish . Prior to it breaking down I’d only lost one wine due to being spoilt , so it’s odd to say the least !


I would be inclined to agree with @Andy999. Did you place a temperature gage within the fridge when it broke down to monitor the temperature in the fridge rather than the outside ambient air temperature ?
Because the fridge has insulation it is likely that even though temperatures outside rose considerably the inside temperature may still have been considerably cooler ie: maintaining the 18C .
Whilst it’s not ideal cellar temperature a slow rise of a few degrees will likely not have harmed most of your wine . The damage tends to come come from dramatic increases or decreases in cellar temperatures .
I would also check your bottles for any signs of seepage around the corks of the older ones .


Hi Leah
Thanks for the tip, I will check, the ones which spoilt were ok in terms of corkage.

Yes the temperatures are from an internal wi fi gauge that I placed inside. It went from 11 degrees to 18 within an hour, then I reset back too 11 degrees. Unfortunately it then broke down soon after and we had to open it quite a bit to try and get fixed, hence the rise to mid twenties. I can only put the spoilage of so many down to the temperature but keen to get an opinion.

Thanks for your help


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  1. I understand that temperature fluctuations in the bottles will be less than the air temperature as there’s a heat sink effect.
  2. I’m concerned that the temperature in the fridge rose by 7 deg in an hour. Mine has a very slow rate of change, this is to lessen fluctuations and means a small heater/cooler is needed.
  3. If the wine inside rose too quickly I suspect that the corks would seep as the liquid will expand.
  4. I think that heat can effect the wine is +30 is reached, when the wine will be cooked. This will taste with reduced aromatics and a boiled wine note. Never had this problem.
  5. Otherwise the effect will be by fluctuations pulling air in around the cork, and prematurely ageing the wine. Oxidation could occur.
    In both 4&5 I suspect that the cork will weep or at least show signs if staining to the end of the cork.
    I had my fridge break, the heating failed so the opposite to you. My drinking wine is held in an uncontrollable cupboard and although the heating is on 18deg In winter and the summer must touch 30deg even inside, everything is perfect although I don’t plan on storing bottles too long.
    I would be surprised if your wine has been badly affected but of course the truth is on the drinking.



All the points above are valid. A couple of issues spring to mind (and though not an MW I did, for my sins, pass the theory papers). Firstly did the issues with the cabinet malfunctioning lead you to sample the older bottles? If so it might not be a totally representative sampling of all the contents. Another point to bear in mind is the colour and origin, many white wines from not just Burgundy but also Alsace and Bordeaux have not lasted as well as might have been historically expected. This is compounded by the fact that apparently identical wines from a single case can show completely different characters.

Despite all that I agree with all the other posters comments that heat damage is quite difficult to achieve. Possibly talking it over with one of the Society buyers might be your best bet.


Much good advice already given…

Are you seeking to make an insurance claim or similar? Wondered if that was why you were looking for an expert opinion.

Presumably the sudden rise in temperature from 11 to 18c was just the air temperature adjusting to the ambient temperature. Even a rise to low to mid twenties on a more gradual basis would seem unlikely in itself to spoil wines. If these were older whites they may well just have aged a bit faster than expected due to the temperature rise, and as you note you had one spoilt bottle before.

Prior to getting my Climadiff cabinet, I had quite a bit of wine stored in cases in my garage. Mainly stuff intended for drinking over the next 1-2 years, but odd bottles of older wine remained for a number of years. The temperature range was probably quite marked over the year as a whole, maybe 0-22c, but the changes would have been pretty gradual in most cases on a day to day basis. I suspect I had a couple of bottles age prematurely, but certainly not all…have recently opened two Bordeaux reds from the 80s which were in pretty good nick. One white burgundy was pretty oxidative but it was over 15 years old! No real sign of cork seep or undue evaporation in any of them though.


Impressive!! :wink::wink::wink:

Regarding the temperature fluctuation, I wanted to chip in with something.

In August I took all the decent wine out of my wine fridge, filled it with beer and prosecco, and turned it down as low as it would go: 7*.

After a few days (and my 40th birthday party) I turned it off altogether.

According to my bluetooth thermometer, it took 11 hours and change to warm from 11* to 18*

My fridge does not have a heating until but it’s kept indoors.

Might be useful information.

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if you are after an “expert” for legal reasons then normally it would be someone holding Chartered Status…but no such thing exists for wine so an MW would have to be your route or an “expert” on spoilage within the food and beverage industry (that person may be a Chartered Chemist)

Good Luck

I sense that expertise in wine storage is very thin on the ground. It is easy to find people to describe the so-called ideal conditions. But there are very few (if any) with expertise on how wine is affected at the limits. The closest you can get is the experience of wine lovers who have less-than-ideal storage conditions, but they can only give anecdotal snap shots of the overall picture.

The reason is that the research is difficult. There are many types of wine that may react differently; many factors; possible interactions between factors; long timescales required for any tests; no obvious source of funding.

However, I am pretty sure that sellers of wine storage solution exaggerate the importance of ideal conditions, so in any claim for a faulty wine cabinet, maybe it would be possible to use quotes from their own literature against them?


fully agree - hence I suggested an expert on spoilage from he wider food and beverage industry