The 6 Worst Wine Disasters

When wine loses against gravity, fire and mother nature


What do you think of when you hear the words "wine disaster?" Red wine on a light carpet? A corked bottle? Stained teeth? Those things all suck, but not nearly as much as the six wine disasters you are about to learn about. 

From millions of dollars worth of wine destroyed, to arson or pesky pests, there's no shortage of disasters in wine history. 

Which do you think is the worst?

Superior Shelf Collapse (VIDEO)

This video has been making the rounds the past few weeks, and for good reason. Superior Wine of Sheboygan, WI had a massive shelf collapse, resulting in over 6,000 bottles meeting their demise on the store floor. I guess the light at the end of this tunnel is that the video, complete with Superior Wine's website, has garnered close to 906,000 views in a short time.

$1 Million Forklift Drop

Earlier this year, a story leaked that a forklift operator dropped over a million dollars worth of wine. It was actually 461 cases of $200/bottle 2010 Mollydooker Velvet Glove Shiraz, to be exact.


World's Most Expensive Puddle

While at an expensive, black-tie Bordeaux dinner back in 1989, William Sokolin broke a bottle of 1787 Chateau Margaux - then valued at close to half a million dollars.  


Photo courtesy Flickr/CC via jlannone

1985 Diethylene Glycol Wine Scandal

Diethylene glycol (commonly used in anti-freeze) was apparently used by some Austrian wineries in an attempt to "make the wines sweeter and more full-bodied in the style of late harvest wines." The scandal led to a collapse of the reputation of Austrian wines and decreased exports. 


Photo courtesy Flickr/CC via eklektikos

California Warehouse Fire

In 2005, a warehouse fire in Vallejo, CA destroyed over 6 million bottles estimated to be worth close to $100 million. It was later found that the cause of the fire was arson, and Mark Anderson was arrested in 2007. He allegedly started the fire to cover up embezzlement. 

[Wine Spectator]

Photo courtesy Flickr/CC via gfpeck


Phylloxera is a pest that targets grapevines nearly everywhere and has been around since the mid-1800s. Thought to have come from the East Coast of North America, these pests suck necessary nutrients and water away from vines and wreak havok on vineyards. These pesky pests wiped out almost all European vineyards in the late 19th century. 


Photo courtesy Flickr/CC via cathdrwg

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  • How about the earthquake in Chile last year that I understand destroyed 14,000,000 cases of Wine? I was there the next month and saw so many crumpled tanks and broken barrels.


    Nov 16, 2011 at 1:54 PM

  • Snooth User: Lodi Brad
    176242 201

    You left out Prohibition. It set the US back for decades.

    Nov 16, 2011 at 2:39 PM

  • Snooth User: Gavilan Vineyards
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    517320 40

    You may also want to add the French to the list of Antifreeze users to enhance their shitty wines.

    Nov 16, 2011 at 4:30 PM

  • Snooth User: Atwater
    32121 9

    How about the fact that NY State has refused the opportunity to sell wine in Food stores and thus will lose $300,000,000.00 in new revenue the first year?

    Nov 16, 2011 at 4:30 PM

  • Snooth User: bikerb1
    338370 0

    I bought 9 bottles from a winery in Hilton Head, all went bad and they made is good. So disappointed as it was really good at the tasting. Corks sucked in and wine ran out. The winery was excellent to deal with and made a full refund. My 9 and my friends 6. I would definitely buy there again.

    Nov 16, 2011 at 4:52 PM

  • Pity they could not find pictures of the right bottles - that is not REMOTELY like a bottle of 1787 Chateau Margaux, for example. There were lots of photos of it at the time; the one that was dropped was not the only bottle still existing. A 1797 Chateau Lafite from the same source was bought by MOMA in New York USA, where it was put on display - with the result that the cork dried out and the wine was ruined.

    Nov 16, 2011 at 5:53 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,942

    Good hook, and good examples. Would've been interesting to see figures for the value of the phylloxera disaster at the time (as well as the opportunity to ship American root stock over for replacement). Also excellent examples from the comments thread. What about the losses to Italian (and French) wine business from the use of different grapes than those controlled/labeled, subsequently busted by the tax police and others? Etc....

    Nov 16, 2011 at 8:30 PM

  • I was so inspired by that shattered 1787 Chateau Margaux at the Four Seasons that I spun out an entire novel based on that event, PANDORA'S BOTTLE!

    Nov 16, 2011 at 10:28 PM

  • ...and then there was that time we knocked over a glass...

    Nov 17, 2011 at 6:26 AM

  • I've heard of European wine lakes but not one in Sheboygan before.

    Nov 17, 2011 at 12:51 PM

  • Referencing the 1787 Margaux, was not that one of the suspect bottles associated with Hardy Rodenstock? For sure he was the "discoverer" of the stash of "Jefferson 1787 Lafites" that caused such a stir, and cost several people a lot of money.

    Nov 17, 2011 at 12:54 PM

  • Snooth User: Doc Vino
    975621 0

    I know it is meaningless in comparison to the loss of human lives but Windows on the World had supposedly the 5th largest collection in the US.

    Nov 18, 2011 at 3:23 PM

  • Snooth User: iaivino
    1527448 1

    Gavilan Vineyards: "You may also want to add the French to the list of Antifreeze users to enhance their shitty wines." Maybe you might want to inject a little bit of factual research into your spurious claims. Or does your education consist of nothing but episodes of The Simpsons?

    Considering the fact that France make the world's most famous wines... and considering you abysmal lack of knowledge or research of the wine world, I wouldn't buy or trust YOUR wine.

    Aug 08, 2014 at 9:41 AM

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