Wine Talk

Snooth User: hasman68

Help with Wine Storage

Posted by hasman68, Jan 15, 2011.

I need advice in setting up wine storage in my house for my growing collection. I have a basement, but it is vulnerable to air from porch and the temperatures reach above 90 in the basement during summer, and drop below freezing in the winter. I have considered insulating a small closet and installing an airconditioner, but as I am currently leasing, I am hesitant to commit too much time and money on such a temporary solution. Anyone have advice on this front? There is access to a small window for A/C ventilation, and wrap around shelving already installed.

Are coolers a viable consideration for storing wine? How long can a bottle be safely stored in a cooler? Is there danger of the corks drying out due to low humidity? Any brands/styles to recommend?


Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 16, 2011.

Buy wine you want to drink now until you get into a more permanent situation.  That also saves you moving the wine.  I'm being a bit flippant, but not completely.  Just keeping it in a closet that doesn't stray above the low 70s will be okay for a while, albeit not 10-20 years, or for some wines even 5-10.  Stand alone units vary hugely in price and size, and I have never broken down and bought one because anything that stored a lot of wine adds quite a bit to the price of the bottle, without taking into account the energy costs.  I think getting a cooling unit is a fine idea, although a friend who tried to use an a/c unit found that it wasn't ideal for the job.  (GregT just suggests getting one that is designed for more volume than you have and setting it at the right temp for wine, not for humans. But there are issues around humidity as well.)  You could buy a specialty unit that you could move with you later. 

I keep my wines in a basement that probably gets too cold and occasionally gets too warm, but never for long.  (My Bay Area weather insures that.)  I figure that the heat and cold have to penetrate the basement, and the packing materials when applicable, and the bottles, to get to the wine.  It doesn't take much time in scorching heat (don't leave wine in a car, period) to damage wine, and prolonged over-temp storage would cook the wine, but I haven't ruined anything yet.  My basement is naturally a bit damp most of the time, enough so that we have a sump, so that's not a big issue--when the weather gets hot, we also get fog, so dry spells are mitigated even in summer.  Of course, I am only storing wines for a few years at a time, usually, although next summer we will open a 10 year old Chateau Montelena for our 10th anniversary.  So we'll see.

I think you could safely block the light from the window and keep everything low to the ground (could make a 5-10 deg F difference) for a few years.   

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jan 17, 2011.

Also depends how many wines you are storing

If it is not too many - particularly the good ones you are going to keep for a longer time, maybe just buy and old second hand fridge and set the temp on a higher [warmer setting] this should be around 40-55F which should be OK [stick a thermometer in too check]

Reply by dmcker, Jan 17, 2011.

Your basement sounds plainly unacceptable. 90F will damage the wines pretty quickly. Can you tell us more about closets in the house that get little use and have no external walls? Otherwise, wine fridges would appear to be your best option.

Where are you located?

Reply by D9sus4, Jan 18, 2011.

It's all about temp and humidity, but a good wine tends to be more forgiving than a cheap wine. From experience, I've lived in places where the only choice I had was an interior space (some low cabinets in an extra bedroom). But, I kept the room between 60-70 degrees year round and the humidity around 50%. Though not ideal conditions, most of my wine survived the ten years I lived there quite well. So do the best you can, and if you can't find a way to suitably regulate the environmental conditions, drink them young.

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