Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Invisible Enemy Strikes My Wine Fridge

IMG_20200201_204954_260Battling the enemy within!

Mold Invades My Wine Stash

We’ve heard quite a bit about the “invisible enemy” recently. Although the talk currently is about COVID-19, I recently fought my battle with a different foe.

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I was upset when I went to the wine fridge only to discover mold had started to attack the label of my 1994 Château Pavie Macquin Saint Emilion Grand Cru. Before this I was blissfully unaware that mold can invade your wine fridge.

Back in Ohio, my wine cellar was in my basement – where the temperature was cool year-round. After our move to North Carolina, with its sweltering summers, I had to switch to a pair of wine fridges to properly protect my vino.

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Much to my dismay, I have learned that microscopic mold spores are floating in the air everywhere. They find a surface they can latch onto and start to grow. If it gets into your wine refrigerator, it can rot your wine labels and corks.

What About The Wine?

Before I attacked the mold, I decided it was time to attack the wine. It was high time to open my Saint Emilion. I didn't want to expose the rest of my bottles to the moldy label. The cork was intact, but crumbled as I tried to pull it. After straining into a decanter, I took a sniff.

At first there was an acetone odor and the taste was medicinal. Gradually, the funk started to dissipate, like the sun burning off the morning fog.

Free of the funk, there is a core of blueberry and dark fruit accented with cigar box and a riffle of minerality. Twenty-six years on, there's was lot to like about this wine. We spent the entire evening sipping it. Then it was time to go to work.

Unfortunately, mold needs the same conditions that we have inside our wine fridge: water, food, darkness and a stable temperature.  Corks are made of wood (mostly) and labels are made of cellulose. Mold decomposes both these substances. Based on my experience, an old label is like an aged porterhouse steak to hungry mold spores.

To address the situation in my cooler, I pulled all my bottles and wiped them down with a diluted mixture (50-50) of ammonia solution and water. The inside of the fridge also got a good wiping.

I placed a packet of silica beads (that came in a package for another product) into the fridge and also a small box of baking soda to boot. I also increased the temperature in my fridge by a couple of degrees to throw the mold spores off balance.

The solution has worked. I check occasionally, but try not to be opening the fridge so often that mold rushes back in. Here is a link to a great resource from NewAir, a manufacturer of wine refrigerators. In this time of crisis, the last thing we need is to be fighting two invisible enemies.

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