The Wine Cellar Chronicles, Part IV: “But, wait… WTF… help!”

I’m a self-confessed luddite with something of an agenda when it comes to technology. The short version of it might be that if it weren’t for Vivino, I’d get rid of my smart phone altogether. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy taking pictures of my kids and checking for updates on my fantasy football game as much as the next guy (I’m 1-1 this season), but I am entirely anti-game, mostly anti-social media, and absolutely anti-time-suck, and that means that my phone needs to know its place. Usually, that place is in a drawer or in my briefcase. Tonight, while I was coaching in a cross country meet, that place was on the bus.

After awards, I got on and grabbed my phone. A dozen text messages and seventeen emails awaited me. I dealt with that quickly before tapping into a few other items. I checked the metrics on this blog (thanks for reading) and logged my driving miles for the past few days. I tooled around briefly on Vivino, proposed a trade for a new TE in fantasy, and then, just before I put my phone down, as I so often do, I checked the temperature in my wine cellar. This is what I saw:


I went nuts. The cellar unit has maintained a range of 63 to 67 almost perfectly since it was installed. What’s more, as readers of this blog will soon learn, I just finished installing insulation in the ceiling. There was no reason for such a serious malfunction, and I was terrified of what could happen to my wine. I knew it was going to be a long time before I got home, so naturally, I reached out for help.


Sonja got my message and went downstairs. She toggled with the remote on the conditioning unit and thought she had it sorted. She said it “kicked on” and that put my heart at ease a little bit. Once back at school, I waited for kids to get rides while I tidied up the bus, then dashed back to my car, hopped in, and took off. I got home and rushed  down the stairs and into the wine cellar. Not muggy, not humid, but warmer than usual, warmer than I wanted, warmer than wine would like it to be. I scanned the room, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. It didn’t take long. Soon, I saw this:


How? I don’t know. I just don’t know. But I can’t let it happen again, so I’m going to duct tape it tonight before I go to bed. After I returned the tubing to its proper location, the temperature in the cellar gradually began to drop again. My heart was back at ease, my wine safe and sound.

The truth is, I wish I had a cellar that was professionally and immaculately finished, but the money is far too great, and I’m honestly enjoying the slow process of fixing it up myself with friends and family while writing about it for you. That said, when my phone informed me that the unit went out, I was in full-on panic mode and ready to take out a loan to finish the project now and properly. According to an article I read on (using my smart phone), wine exposed to 80 degree temps for more than 36 hours is irreparably damaged, its molecular structure changed permanently. Cooked wine is awful (see several previous posts) and the idea of cooking the wine I’ve accumulated offends me. Wine can also be damaged if it gets too cold, which is another potential problem in my cellar this coming winter. I may revisit the idea of adding a WhisperCool or some other system sooner than later. In the meantime, I need to go duct-tape that hose.

Technology can be awful. People get “brave” on Facebook, saying things they’d never say to your face. Others text while they drive, killing themselves and others. Still others are simply disconnected by technology from the amazing and beautiful world in which we live.  But technology can also be amazing. I learn new things on TED every week, and the photographs of my children that my wife sends to me throughout the day make my schedule a little easier to endure. My phone tonight may have saved my cellar from irreparable damage, my nearly 500 bottles of wine from being cooked simultaneously in an oven I had poorly designed for their protection. I will continue to buy wine, continue work on the cellar, and continue to use my smart phone and a series of tiny sensors I don’t really understand to monitor it. Tonight, technology saved the day… twice; I suppose duct tape, in its own way, is also a form of technology.



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