What is the Best Temperature and Humidity for a Wine Cellar?

Wine Room with Acrylic Racking by Vinotemp

Wine is a delicate liquid that when stored in proper conditions, ages gracefully and tastes its best.

The ideal storage locations for wine are inside a wine cellar or wine cave. For those who do not have access to a wine cave or wine cellar, a wine cooler or cabinet can be used. There are multiple ways to create a suitable environment for wine, including a wine cooler, wine cabinet, or cellar cooling system.

Temperature and Humidity

Before you select a storage solution, you should learn what conditions wine needs for proper storage. Wine, whether white or red, ages best at a consistent temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too warm, the wine will cook and age quickly. The ideal humidity range for wine is 50-70% RH, with 60%RH considered the optimum humidity. Humidity prevents the cork of a wine bottle from drying out, allowing it to maintain its seal and preventing oxidization.

Wine Caves

Wine caves or subterranean (underground) cellars create these conditions naturally. Caves are damp and humid, while the ground’s soil acts as insulation to prevent wide temperature fluctuations. Storing wine inside a wine cave or in a subterranean cellar are methods of passive temperature control. Active temperature control uses a cellar cooling system, wine cabinet, or wine cooler to create the right environment for wine.

Wine Cellars

How does a wine cellar maintain the right temperature and humidity for wine? Before adding a cellar cooling system to a wine room, it must be properly insulated and sealed. A vapor barrier around the entire space must be installed to prevent condensation and mold from forming. Insulation is also used to help the space maintain its conditions. Even the door of a wine cellar must be thick enough to contain the cool air and humidity of the cellar. The wine cellar should also be in a space that is away from the hot afternoon sun. Oftentimes a basement, spare closet, or room is selected for a wine cellar location. The cellar cooling system blows cold air into the wine cellar while exhausting hot air to the outside, like a standard air conditioner operates. Certain kinds of cellar cooling systems can also maintain the humidity inside the wine cellar. A humidifier, tray of water, or filter can be placed inside the cellar to create humidity. Some cellar owners even go so far as to add a small water feature inside the cellar, like a tabletop waterfall. Additional tools may be used to monitor the conditions of the wine cellar, such as a hygrometer, wine bottle probe, and digital temperature control panel.

Wine Cabinet

A wine cabinet works similarly to a wine cellar but on a much smaller scale. Wine cabinets are furniture pieces that include wine racks. Some wine cabinets also include a cellar cooling system, but some may not. The best way to ensure wine is stored properly is to locate the cabinet in a darker part of a room away from direct sunlight. A wine cabinet with a cellar cooling system will be properly insulated and sealed to help it maintain its temperature and humidity. Like a wine cellar, a tray of water or filter may be placed inside the cabinet to help create humidity.

Wine Cooler

A wine cooler is a refrigerator made for wine storage. Unlike a refrigerator designed for food, the compressor system of a wine cooler does not actively extract humidity. Wine coolers operate within an approximate temperature range between 40 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Like wine cabinets and wine cellars, they should be located away from direct sunlight. Wine coolers are properly insulated and sealed, which helps them maintain their conditions. Select wine coolers include a charcoal filter which helps to maintain the humidity inside the cooler while preventing the buildup of mold.

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