Wine Storage & Residential Cellars

Temperature is by far the most important factor in considering wine storage options.

Storage temperature of wine has an impact on its flavor, quality and longevity.

Since most wines need to be aged for a period of months to years, your wine storage area should have a consistent temperature.

This means the popular nine bottle wine racks that sit on countertops are not effective in properly storing wine.

Wine storage temperature should be between 40 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, with the optimal range being between 50 and 55 degrees. Wine develops nicely when it is within this range. Before refrigeration was invented, wines were stored in caves and underground cellars.

Wine Cellar

Until a bottle of wine is opened, it should be ideally be stored at no less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. However, opened bottles of wine should be kept in your refrigerator. The average temperature of most refrigerators is 41 degrees Fahrenheit. This lower temperature will slow the chemical processes in your open bottle of wine and make the last glass of wine taste the same as the first.

Some wine experts debate the attention given to humidity in the storage of glass wine bottles. However, studies have shown that with most quality wines that are bottled and corked properly, the relative humidity within a bottle is maintained 100% regardless of the wine closure used and if the bottle is stored upright or on its side.

If you do not have ideal conditions for storing your wine (such as a wine cellar), it is recommended that you at least maintain optimal temperature levels. Ideally, a cellar or controlled temperature wine chamber is the best way to store your wines. You can purchase wine refrigerators that maintain the ideal temperature if you do not have a wine cellar.

Wine cellars offer the opportunity to protect alcoholic beverages from potentially harmful external influences, providing darkness and a constant temperature.

Left exposed to heat, light, vibration or fluctuations in temperature and humidity, all types of wine, including red, white, sparkling, and fortified, can spoil. When properly stored, wines not only maintain their quality but many actually improve in aroma, flavor, and complexity as they mature.

Residential wine cellars can be either active or passively cooled. Actively cooled wine cellars are highly insulated and need to be properly constructed. These types of wine cellars utilize specific wine cellar conditioning and cooling systems to maintain the desired temperature and humidity.

Many systems only control the temperature and not the humidity so it is important to look for a system that actively controls both with temperature and humidification integrated into the unit.

Passively cooled wine cellars take advantage of naturally cool and damp areas (such as basements with un-insulated outside walls in cool and temperate climates) when minor seasonal and diurnal temperature variations can be tolerated. Passive wine cellars may be less predictable, but cost nothing to operate and aren’t affected by power outages.

A wine rack is a storage device that holds bottles of wine horizontally, or at any angle where the wine remains in constant contact with the cork. You can find any number of commercially available racks or build them yourself as a fun DIY project.

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