LCB warns of exploding wine

Posted: June 19, 2014

HARRISBURG - Everyone expects the cork on the bubbly to pop. But the whole bottle?

In the realm of Pennsylvania's multibillion dollar liquor business, it was like a comet sighting.

Suddenly, glass bottles of sparkling wine were exploding. In the stores. In the halls of the Liquor Control Board headquarters. On someone's kitchen counter.

Eight incidents so far, officials say.

So the LCB is issuing what may be its first warning ever to consumers about a potentially explosive shipment of wine.

It issued the advisory Tuesday after receiving reports of at least eight incidents of exploding bottles of Indigenous Selections Prosecco Brut 2013.

No injuries have been reported, spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman said.

The board has removed more than 2,300 cases of the wine from 180 stores, but is urging anyone who bought bottles from the 163 cases that were sold to dispose of them immediately.

"Put them in a garbage bag in a trash can outside of the house," Kriedeman said.

"We want to take every precaution in order to avoid a safety issue," said LCB Chairman Joseph E. Brion.

What turns a bottle of wine into an explosive device? Kriedeman said the wine distributor thinks it was a bad batch of glass.

David Dalton, a Temple University chemistry professor and a wine expert, agreed. He said that during the months-long fermentation, the mixture of grapes and yeast that produces the alcohol also produces carbon dioxide, which makes the wine bubbly - and potentially explosive if produced by amateurs.

"It could be a flaw in the glass or the way the wine was made," said Dalton, who teaches a class on the chemistry of wine and is writing a book on the subject. "Since it was a reputable company, it is unlikely they got the mixture wrong, so it's probably faulty glass."

The Prosecco Brut 2013, a Chairman's Selection wine, sold for $12.99 (code 33283) for 750 milliliters.

The LCB said consumers should not return the bottles, but would still be eligible for a refund. An original receipt is helpful in processing the return. Anyone with questions may call 1-800-272-7522 and then press 3, or e-mail lbconsumer@pa.gov.


aworden@phillynews.com

717-783-2584 @inkyamy

www.inquirer.com/phillydawg

www.inquirer.com/commonwealthconfidential

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