Flooded wine

What do you do when floods have invaded your wine cellar? It’s a question many victims of the recent Australian inundations are asking. After his cellar was flooded, one Brisbane restaurateur is reported to have dumped 2000 bottles of top shelf wine as undrinkable.

Unsaleable maybe, but I wouldn’t agree that flood ravaged bottles are undrinkable. And no way would I dump them. (Unless the insurance people insisted, that is.)

The labels on immersed bottles may have floated off or become unreadable, scummy water may have soaked under wine bottle capsules, but mostly this will be cosmetic damage only.

The wine in bottles with undamaged screwcaps is going to be untainted, as the seal is virtually impregnable. Bottles with corks may be a problem, as mould and fungi can invade the organic matter of the cork bark.

My suggestion is to remove the capsules from cork-sealed bottles, then rinse all bottles in a weak antiseptic solution, rinse and dry.

Then, over the next few months, it’s trick or treat time. First bottles to open are the ones with corks, as they’re the ones most likely to have gone “off”. If there is any hint of taint or mustiness on the nose or palate of the wine, pour it straight down the sink. Don’t even dream of using it for cooking.

Drink anonymous screwcapped bottles at your leisure and for a bit of fun treat each bottle as a masked tasting session. Or you could sell off bargain-priced, mystery mixed dozens to friends and relos.

On the bright side, keep in mind that many bottles of wine and spirits recovered from sunken ships, have been found to be in palatable condition after decades, even centuries, under water.

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