Food by VICE

This Surgeon Is Suing an AC Company For Ruining His $300,000 Wine Collection

The moral of this story is this: a hobby that involves delayed gratification is a recipe for disaster. Drink your wine now. That way, it won’t get cooked later.

by Alex Swerdloff
Aug 25 2015, 10:15pm

Photo via Flickr user eastmidtownpartnership

It requires a pretty damn large amount of diligence and zeal to spend a lifetime collecting and not drinking the world's finest wines. If you put aside the fact that the bottles' gemlike contents can get you totally fucking smashed, it takes a certain brand of long-sightedness to invest so much time and effort in something with as little immediacy as wine-collecting.

But even if you agree with us that fine-wine-collecting is a hobby for people with alien amounts of patience and restraint, you can probably understand at least a small, tear-stained bit of the abject horror Dr. Spero Raptis felt upon discovering that the wine collection he spent a lifetime accumulating was utterly destroyed in a moment of carelessness. A prudent lifetime spent without the reward of a boozy, bacchanalian release came to a fruitless end.

And, to make it all worse, it allegedly wasn't his fault.

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According to The Telegraph, Dr. Raptis—a retired head of surgery living in Adelaide, Australia—is now suing the air conditioning firm he claims to have literally "cooked" the more than 1,200 bottles of sought-after wine in his cellar. The oenophile has accused the firm in question of causing approximately £200,000 (around US $314,000) worth of damage by negligently leaving a humidifier on overnight in the cellar.

The doctor's complaint, recently filed in court, claims breach of contract and negligence; he is demanding that not should all 1,253 wines be replaced, but that he receive monetary damages for the heat-wave gaffe.

Among the bottles rendered worthless were many sought-after vintages, including 86 bottles of Penfolds Grange Hermitage, Australia's most expensive wine. Just to give you an idea of the scope of Dr. Raptis's loss, a single bottle of Penfolds Grange Hermitage is known to sell for as high as £17,000 or around US $26,000. That's some mighty fine wine.

Champagnes, burgundies—all ruined. We're talking about wine from Australia's famed Rockford, Geoff Merrill, and Reschke Wineries. In all, Dr. Raptis says, 75 percent of the value of his collection is gone.

It all began when Raptis noticed that the temperature in his cellar—which is 10 square meters, or around 108 square feet—began to increase. A contractor was summoned and found a faulty compressor in the AC unit. The worker "switched off the power to isolate the unit, removed it, and fitted a replacement." Then he said he'd be back the next day. Cue wine-destroying music.

Dr. Raptis claims the contractor left the humidifier on all night. Gusts of steam ensued. The good doctor's wife noticed condensation seeping from beneath the cellar door.

"The heat was sufficient that [Dr. Raptis] was unable to immediately enter the cellar. Large amount of steam escaped from [the cellar]," according to the complaint the doctor filed.

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Stick a fork in it—the wine was cooked. And the lawsuit was filed shortly thereafter.

We're very sorry for Dr. Raptis's loss. But in our opinion, the moral of this story is this: a hobby that involves delayed gratification is a recipe for disaster.

Drink your wine now. That way, it won't get cooked later.

Wine Cellar
Dr. Spero Raptis
Penfolds Grange Hermitage
wine aging