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Wine store question- Lost case- what would you do?

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Back in the 1990s, I bought a case of Bordeaux in my local wine store. He agreed to let me store the wine as long as I wanted. Over the years, I returned to remove two bottles that had reached maturity. I buy all my wines and liquors from this shop and have a good relationship with the owner.

However, when I recently returned, the owner could not locate the stored case. Unfortunately, I lost the small bill which had listed the contents and there was no other copy made. Has anyone else experienced a similar problem? What would be a fair way to resolve this situation?

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  1. Surely you have a friendly and familiar relationship with the still-living owner, or the storage could not have come about. How is it that he does not acknowledge responsibility to replace the 10 bottles that presumably were sold? A missing slip of paper is not a gotcha or requirement among friends.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Veggo

      As usual, you said what I wanted to but you said it better. Trying to read between the lines, does the OP already know it's going to be a problem? Inquiring minds want to know.

    2. Would you leave your beautiful spouse-to-be under a friend's custody?
      With the friend in question being precisely the Celestine that provided the link?
      C'm on!

      1. Having owned a small wine shop I would say this is a difficult situation. I stored a small quantity of wine for a few customers, but always put documentation on the wine, so I'd know whose it was or in case I should one day disappear down a rabbit hole. Admittedly I didn't keep a copy of that documentation in my files or on my computer, which (in hindsight) was dumb). I only had the store for 3 years, but did have someone's wine for almost that long.

        I think the owner had a definite responsibility to safeguard your wine, whether or not you were paying for storage, but I DO think that obligation is mitigated somewhat. Ten years+ is along time and you don't say what the owner is offering to do for you, if anything It's not likely that he can replace the wine, but he should make amends somehow. What he's OK with might depend on his financial ability too.

        On his side, where I live minimum storage costs can run $15-$25 a month, setting up the equivalent of a 'gift' to you of something in the neighborhood of $2000+ in free storage. Looking at it that way, may make you see it a bit differently. At the very least he could replace the wine by selling you wine at his cost in a specific $ amount ? (note that in some states the law requires that he make a small % profit).

        In any case, your post suggests that you aren't jumping up and down expecting 100% recovery of the current market value. If you could relate what's transpired between you so far, it might help the discussion.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Midlife

          At this point, we are just getting together to discuss the matter. I am open to suggestions on some fair settlement proposal on my part. I realize that we both erred- he selling my bottles but I losing the bill. Each bottle cost about $30-35 at the time. What would you do?

        2. I'm not trying to be a smart a**, but why would anyone store a single case of wine for 10+ years at a store ?

          8 Replies
          1. re: TonyO

            I'm with TonyO. If you are going in periodically to buy and ask about the wine, there should be an ongoing memeroy. I have placed things on longterm consignment because I do not need or want them. After a while the storage balances the value. I would not leave wines for ten years, I do have wines at a vinyard for the last 6 months awaiting pick up, but if I haven't gotten them in 10 years they are not going to be any good. Work out a trade equitable to both. Now if they were first or second growth Bordeaux, we would have something to worry about.

            1. re: TonyO

              Why not? If storage conditions are right, and they are offering you the space for free, why not? I haven't lived in Chicago since May of 2002, but I still have cases of wine stored in a local store there. Next time I drive home I am sure that we'll load up the car and bring it home, but I know that it is safe there. I am also a big fan of the "out of sight out of mind" mentality, and knowing that they are there, I am not tempted to pop one on one of those nights where you seem to get crazy popping bottle after bottle of wines that you shouldn't have! =) But then again, infantcide is not such a bad thing, and can be a great learning experience. -mJ

              1. re: TonyO

                "'m not trying to be a smart a**, but why would anyone store a single case of wine for 10+ years at a store ?"

                If I could, I'd have you taste a few of the '97 California Cabs I've stored and you'd change your opinion about that. Some people don't have the room or the proper conditions for storage, and others don't want to be tempted to drink them. Off-site wine storage is a fairly significant business in some parts of the country.

                1. re: Midlife

                  "Off-site wine storage is a fairly significant business in some parts of the country."

                  It is. And it's also much more reliable and wise to leave wine at a dedicated facility rather than leaving a case at a store (unless they are set up for client storage as a service.)

                  I somewhat agree with TonyO, leaving a case of $30-35 (at time of purchase) at a store for 10 years is probably not the best idea. I'm actually surprised the wine didn't get lost, mistakenly sold, enjoyed, or damaged sooner....

                  I am curious to the OP though- In those 10 years did you ever ask the owner something along the lines of 'Hey, I know this case has been sitting hear for over a decade now, do you want me to maybe get it out of here or something?'

                  1. re: LATrapp

                    I tend to think that there is a difference between "off-site wine storage" and "leaving a case of wine at a store for 10 +years". Maybe I am naive to "city living" but I find it almost impossible to believe that someone with the means to buy a $300 - $400 dollar case of wine doesn't have 2 sq feet of fairly temperate space to store the wine. Maybe I should start renting out space in my cellar on Craig's list........................................

                    1. re: TonyO

                      Who knows all the specific reasons, but people do it. I had one customer who bought a case of Silver Oak Napa and kept it in my back room so he and his Dad could come in and enjoy a bottle now and then without him having to explain it to his wife. I know he had around 1,000 bottles in a 'proper' storage facility about 10 miles away, so I just figured this was a special stash.

                      A good wine shop, even if it doesn't have optimum storage conditions, is likely to be kept air conditioned enough to be better than a closet at your home, depending on where you live. My shop's store room stayed at 65 or so 24/7. We're in an area by the beach where it's relatively cool so people don't usually keep their home A/C set low constantly. It can spike up into the high 90's though and your closet storage could well hit over 100 in rather short time if you're not around. In warmer climates there's not really any space in your house that you could trust year round. Most California homes don't have basements, for example.

                      1. re: Midlife

                        I guess I shouldn't complain that we had snow flurries today and it rarely hits 90 degrees in Vermont!

                  2. re: Midlife

                    Well put, I planned out a Napa excursion for us and two other couples not long after most of the '97s were released. One in our party went so far as to duct tape his cases (to deter sudden impulses and his up and coming oenophile twin boys) and store them away from home. Having those available over the past several years have been a real treat and we have found that only a very few had passed their prime, still quite good just not optimal. Of course there are others that i'm sure haven't yet come close to their potential.