Wine cave construction in the United States has a long history dating back to the 1800s in the Sonoma and Napa Valley regions of California. During these early days, workers used shovels, chisels, pick-axes, and sometimes explosives to break through rock. They labored by candlelight and moved unwanted material using straw baskets, all to create the perfect environment for the long-term storage of wine. [i]
What makes a cave the ideal place for a wine bottle? Let’s discuss.
Wine caves are damp and humid places that can maintain a humidity of 70 to 90 percent.In dry environments, the cork of a wine bottle dries out causing it to shrink or crumble. This leads to seepage and/or oxidization which can spoil the wine.
Caves maintain a temperature of around 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.Wine ages gracefully when stored in cooler environments. When wine has been overheated for sustained periods of time, its flavor becomes flat or dull and in extreme situations it will taste like raisins or prunes. Higher temperatures can also cause the wine inside the bottle to expand and push out the cork.
Caves are free from unwanted vibrations.This is important for wine as experts believe that vibration causes sediment and chemical reactions. When wine ages, sediment naturally settles at the bottom of the bottle. When subject to movement, the sediment mixes with the wine, ruining the flavor. If there is a chemical reaction, the wine may become too sweet or dull.
Wine is sunlight averse, which leads to the last reason caves are ideal for wine storage--- they’re dark.UV rays can actually cause wine to age prematurely, which will lead to poor quality. This is also why most wine bottles are designed with a darker colored glass.
Are wine caves practical for today’s wine collector?
Not exactly. Caves may be the ideal storage solution for wine, but they’re not easy to build nor are they cheap. Plus, most people do not have enough space on their property for a cave. Lucky for us modern day wine collectors, there’s an alternative ----- a wine cooler! Wine refrigerators are designed to provide the same benefits of a wine cave, minus the intense labor. Some of Vinotemp’s wine refrigerators even have added features, like charcoal filters to control odor and humidity, Vinotemp Blu Interior LED Lighting which prevents mold and bacteria from growing inside the refrigerator, plus specially designed glass that adds another layer of UV protection. Some of our favorite wine coolers are listed below.
7-Bottle Mirrored Wine Cooler
Private Reserve Series 41-Bottle Cooler
Designer Series 300-Bottle Wine Cooler
[i]Wine cave, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wine_cave&oldid=741152901 (last visited Sept. 13, 2018).