Ask Eno: Explosive

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Dear Eno,

Some of my wine exploded in my rented storage unit. What might have caused this? I need a wine detective!




Dear Jacob,

What a shame! Without seeing the scene of the crime I can only speculate but I have some ideas.

If it were just one bottle that exploded, I’d say it might be have been a defective bottle. If a wine isn’t properly filtered and stabilized before bottling, it can begin to re-ferment, creating enough pressure to shatter bottles not made for sparkling wine pressure levels. If it looks like just one bottle exploded and maybe in the process took out other ones nearby, that would be my best guess.  

If instead multiple bottles appear to have exploded, especially if these broken bottles are not necessarily near enough to each other to have knocked into each other, it could be that your storage unit might have issues with its temperature control. Wines can freeze and push their corks out. Under very cold circumstances, say below 22 degrees, wine can potentially freeze solid, which would definitely create a scenario for breaking bottles. Conversely, extremely hot temperatures (like inside your car during the summer) can also cause bottles to burst. This seems less likely this time of year in your case.  

I’d say it’s worth asking the storage facility if they have had problems with their heating system lately. Any bottles that didn’t break might also be damaged in terms of quality if they got cold enough to get icy.  

If the temperature hasn’t fluctuated dramatically in the unit, the cause may be harder to find. Faulty shelving? Storage unit mouse knocking something over/into wine?    

Good luck, Gumshoe!

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