Using cathodoluminescence spectroscopy directly performed in a scanning transmission electron microscope at liquid helium temperatures, the optical and structural properties of a 62 InGaN/GaN multiple quantum well embedded in an AlInN/GaN based microcavity are investigated at the nanometer scale. We are able to spatially resolve a spectral redshift between the individual quantum wells towards the surface. Cathodoluminescence spectral linescans allow directly visualizing the critical layer thickness in the quantum well stack resulting in the onset of plastic relaxation of the strained InGaN/GaN system. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.