Unfortunate wine advice sought

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by GuyD'nis, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. Bad news from some friends of ours. We gave them a bottle of Champagne which they put in the fridge in their holiday home in Spain. They hadn't drunk it when the time came to return to England in mid September so they left it in the fridge, which was turned off with the door open.

    They've returned and found that the bottle seems to have exploded. A shame and some dried up Champagne sticks to the fridge. But a bigger worry is little shards of glass, some millimetres in each dimension stuck to the inside of the fridge, including the ceiling. Some very hard to see.

    I guess all they can do is try to clean said fridge very carefully indeed (painstaking) and not put anything in it without a lid for some time (not sure how long). Though any thoughts welcome. I assume an ingested shard of glass could be quite dangerous.

    I'm surprised, too. I can't imagine it was that warm, and either way wouldn't expect a bottle to explode like that. Incidentally, still wine bottles next to it seemingly unaffected.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  2. Glass can behave very strangely under stress. Here’s a picture of what I was left holding when I tried to separate two tumblers on Monday. Very lucky not to cut myself horribly: As well as the big chunks I was covered in almost powdery razor-sharp fragments.

    Sympathies to your friends!

  3. Lucky there was an ambulance there :)
  4. Guy - a classic case of transference of the epithet in the title!
  5. Indeed, and not a very good thread title. After all, what advice can one give.

    I was a bit stunned though - I saw a photo and it had blasted glass shards everywhere, sticking them to the fridge insides. And I've never seen or heard of Champagne bottles just doing that before.
  6. Wouldn't worry too much. Fortunately Spanish houses don't have the dreaded carpet!
  7. Visiting Champagne cellars one sees odd holes in stacks of bottles where one has exploded.
  8. It used to be very common, setting off chain reactions across the cellar. That’s a very long time ago though!
    Steven Pritchard likes this.
  9. The strength of glass depends critically of the size of any cracks. Maybe the bottle had a manufacturing flaw or got a knock, and then the temperature increase caused the internal pressure to rise beyond the breaking point.

    A knock it the right place does not have to be hard to cause serious damage - as illustrated by sabering.
  10. I've been told that most of the breakages in cellars are in stacks that haven't been disgorged - that makes sense since there is a drop in pressure during disgorgement.
  11. If the A/C in the house was also turned off, and temperature in the house was at, or over 30°C for a few weeks; then the temp in the fridge would also get to that temp. Thermal expansion of the liquid would be significant. Still wines might have their corks pushed out, or more likely cork stayed put, but wine pushed out around the edges of the cork. Champagne corks are much tighter and held in place by the wire basket. Thus the only way to relieve the liquid expansion is to explode the bottle! :)
  12. Peter, the effect of liquid expansion will be negligible as it is so small, and there is wiggle-room in the ullage and cork position. It will also be offset by expansion of the glass.

    Rather, the higher pressure on the glass comes from the increased ullage gas pressure (O Level physics in my day). Also I believe there will be a tendency for more CO2 to come out of solution at higher temperatures - but I have no idea how significant that is.
  13. Never seen this once! Where did this happen?
  14. Guy,

    Can we ask what the wine was?


  15. That must have been a remarkable sight.
  16. I heard once an exploded bottle of DP in flight but it is not as dangerous as mentioned here, IIRC no one was hurt.
  17. I've been to many Champagne cellars, seen in several, but I can't remember which ones. It's fairly common. Sometimes the pieces of broken glass are in the hole.

    First one I saw I asked the guide about it.

    Better breaking in the cellar than with a customer
  18. One wonders with the open fridge door it was in direct sunlight for a period of time.
  19. Indeed Kinley! And maybe the Champagne was a natural producer, and the wine experienced a spontaneous ferment when warmed...
  20. Was a Benoit Lahaye Brut Essentiel.
  21. I refer you to my previous comment! :p
    Jez Greyson likes this.
  22. I'd wondered that, though without making a link to the producer. Apparently the juice spatterings were quite brown. But that could just be because a puddle had reduced to a sticky goo. Seriously, do you think the specific champagne in question was a factor?
  23. Seen in heidsiecks cellars
  24. Steve, thanks for the education. I hadn't realized the coefficient of thermal expansion of the wine would be so small as to be negligible. Perhaps you could show us how you figured this?

    I must admit it was over 50 years ago that I took O Level physics, but back then the increase in gas pressure due to temperature change was calculated using degrees absolute. Did you remember this when you say the higher pressure on the glass is from increased ullage gas pressure?

    And you might want to cast your mind back to that basic gas equation: P1xV1/T1=P2xV2/T2 and figure out what effect the liquid thermal expansion might have on the head space gas pressure (don't forget to use psia) :)
  25. Yes I do. Champagnes biggest danger is spontaneous bottle ferments. With modern glass, and wine making techniques, this shouldn’t be an issue, but many producers are pushing the envelope (such as wild yeasts, and the old bugbear of SO2) and as such cannot guarantee the quality of the second fermentation.

    Additionally disgorgement mishaps do happen still (some yeasts still in the bottle).

    Or it might be a one off! :)



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