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Our basement flooded and fine wines were submerged. Are they safe to drink?

The question

We had very nice bottles of wine in our cellar when the floods hit (Super Tuscans). There was a mix of drain water and possibly sewage. These bottles were submerged in the water. Are they still safe to drink?

The answer

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I'm sorry about your misfortune. Calgary suffered a devastating flood and Toronto was hit with a torrent of rain recently.

I believe your wine is likely to be fine, though. I have done my battles with cellar mould in a couple of houses but, thankfully, no flood. One person with considerable experience in these matters is Warren Porter, president of Iron Gate, a Toronto company that provides secure, off-site wine-storage facilities and in-home cellar-management services. He responded to numerous flood calls this summer and offers this commentary to your question:

"The major damage from the water is going to occur to the labels, but the wine inside should be fine providing [the bottles] were not submerged for days at a time. To be safe, I would cut the capsules off as soon as possible and spray the top of the cork (the whole bottle, actually) with Concrobium, which you can buy at Home Depot. This will remove any mould and/or bacteria that may have worked its way under the capsule and against the cork. I believe it would take quite a long time for anything to permeate that cork and affect the wine. This wine would not be resaleable but fine to consume if you don't delay."

Thank you, Warren. Hope this helps.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

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About the Author
Life columnist

Beppi Crosariol writes about wine and spirits in the Globe Life and Style sections.He has been The Globe's wine and spirits columnist for more than 10 years. In the late 1990s, he also wrote a food trends column called The Biting Edge.Beppi used to cover business law for ROB and previously edited the paper's weekly technology section. More

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