Wine storage temperature and creative wine rack solutions

Wine Storage Temperature

What’s the best temperature for wine storage? Temperature and wine cellar cooling are naturally a priority, the ideal temperature should be within 11 > 14 degrees celsius. Temperature is a critical factor as it determines the longevity and quality of the wine. Minor variations in temperature will always occur but these should be kept to a minimum.

A cellar cooler can be programmed to operate at 10>12 degrees celsius which is the setting reserved for beer cellar cooling. If a wider temperature range is preferred then 11>14 degrees celsius can be used for wine cellar cooling. Remember though your wine cellar cooler will remove humidity from your cellar which is well worth considering given that humidity is another critical factor.

Wine Storage Temperature Guide

Full-bodied red wines

WineTemperature (˚F)Temperature (˚C)
Red Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Brunello, Recioto,63˚F17˚C
Ribera del Duero, Zinfandel, Grand Cru Bordeaux,  Carmenere, Shiraz,64˚F18˚C
Banyuls, Madeira, Vintage Port,66˚F19˚C

Light-to-medium-bodied reds

WineTemperature (˚F)Temperature (˚C)
Portuguese Wines and Young Spanish wines55˚F13˚C
Sherry, Chinon, Tawny Port57˚F14˚C
Chianti, Light Zinfandels,59˚F15˚C
Rioja, Pinot Noir, Bordeaux (Young), Merlot61˚F16˚C

Dry white wines

WineTemperature (˚F)Temperature (˚C)
Italian Whites, Alsace Riesling, Pouilly Fume, Pouilly Fuissé, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gruner Veltliner46˚F8˚C
Bordeaux Blanc, Chenin Blanc,  Sauvignon Blanc48˚F9˚C
White Burgundy, Condrieu,52˚F11˚C
Full-bodied Chardonnay and Graves54˚F12˚C

Sweet and Sparkling wines

WineTemperature (˚F)Temperature (˚C)
Cava, Asti spumante,41˚F5˚C
Sparkling Wine & Non-vintage Champagne43˚F6˚C
White Zinfandel, Sweet Vouvray, Tavel, Icewine, Tokaji, Barsac,  Sauternes, Beerenauslese, Auslese, Sake, Trockenbeerenauslese,45˚F7˚C
 Muscats, Riesling (New World) and Sparkling Wine, Vintage Champagne,46˚F8˚C

Why you should store wine out of sunlight

A wine cellar must always be kept as dark as possible. Ultra Violet (UV) rays can severely affect a wine’s quality. The wine ageing process is accelerated when exposed to UV light which causes unwanted chemical reactions. Pantothenic and riboflavin react with amino acids which causes the release of sulphur which is responsible for the unpleasant aroma and taste. Ultra Violet light will impact negatively on smell, taste and the appearance of wine. Wine connoisseurs and enthusiasts everywhere refer to this adverse reaction as light strike.

Wine cellar Lighting

Ensure that any wine cellar lighting is not incandescent, this can render Wine Storage Temperature and Wine Rack Solutionsa similar effect to sunlight. Any wine cellar storage lighting should have a UV protective coating. Often overlooked is the glass door wine cooler. Always confirm that any purchase of a glass fronted cooling cabinet for your wine has a UV-treated glass door. It is also worth bearing in mind that wine in clear bottles can be damaged after only 3 hours of exposure to the sun. The green bottles more associated with red wine offer greater protection of up to 18 hours.

What is the Ideal Humidity for wine storage

Adequate and optimal wine cellar humidity is recognized as 50% to 70% relative humidity (RH), ideally 60%. If emphasis is not placed on humidity wine quality will be compromised in a number of ways. Humidity above 70% will more than likely encourage mould and adversely affect labels and label adhesive, fungus may also grow on bottles. Conversely if your wine cellar is below 50% this can affect corking by way of cracking and drying out and oxygen is likely to permeate the wine. Remember that humidity helps to keep corks moist.

Air conditioners and Cellar Cooling reduce humidity

Remember while wine cellar cooling is a major consideration cellar cooling and air conditioning units will remove humidity from the air. The humidity removed is converted to condensate which is typically diverted to a waste water outlet. Therefore if your cellar is not below ground with the benefits of natural subterranean cooling a humidifier should be considered. Less expensive methods are to place a bucket/bowl of water inside the cellar. Alternatively a decorative fountain will also suffice, as water circulates it evaporates creating humidity. For a  purpose built wine cellar the room should be air tight with a vapour barrier. Note that distilled or purified water should preferably be used.

Thermo Hygrometers

Thermo Hygrometers are an indispensable tool for the conscientious wine enthusiast. Thermo Hygrometers will display temperature and relative humidity (RH). Whether for long term storage or everyday drinking. These units will automatically display and record the maximum and minimum temperature and relative humidity (RH), temperatures can be displayed in both Fahrenheit and Centigrade. More exotic sensors are available that will alert you via app when relative humidity falls outside of desired settings.

Does Movement and Vibration ruin wine

Agitation and/or frequent vibration can be detrimental to wine ageing. Vibration can and does disturb sediment triggering unseen chemical reactions as well as, consequently, affecting texture, taste and quality. The increase in kinetic energy caused by agitation and vibration leads to a decrease in succinic and tartaric acids. The decrease in these acids causes a reduction in esters therefore dulling flavours. Vibration and agitation will also increase the alcohol component propanol which reduces aromas. In turn it also raises Isoamyl alcohol (accentuating acetone notes) resulting in a raised refractive index rendering the wine sweeter.

Why use a wine cabinet

Without the luxury of a cellar a wine cabinet is an ideal solution for wine storage. Wine cabinets also offer ample shelving, controlled lighting along with vibration free cooling and heating functions. A thermal pump is also sometimes used to achieve optimal humidity. A warning alarm, either visual or audible, is also a pre requisite and priority should the temperature fluctuate beyond set parameters. Your wine cabinet choice will be determined by your collection i.e. Single temperature wine cabinets and the option of split temperature cabinets to multi temperature wine cabinets. Other factors determining your choice of a wine cabinet are:
Duration of wine storage
Amount of bottles in the collection.

Wine Racks

Apart from being functional and essential for correctly storing wine, racking is also a positive aesthetic that can be a rustic or modern focal point. Typical wine racks are constructed from Good quality pine and/or galvanised steel. Pine wine racks can be left natural or stained with preservative to address any humidity. Bespoke wine racks are available but at a premium of around £1.50 per section (pine) and upwards to £7.50 for High end stainless steel and oak. Bespoke wine racks can complement your wine cellar with a custom build for both display and storage while also adding sophistication and elegance.

Getting Wine Rack Size right

In respect of wine bottles one size does not fit all and well worth bearing in mind when considering wine storage racking for your collection. Standard wine bottles, often referred to as Bordeaux Wine Bottles which are High shouldered are recognised as the most common ‘universal’ size. Bordeaux bottles measure up at 3″ (approx 75mm), Bordeaux wines will rarely be bottled in anything larger than Imperial size. Burgundy bottles can therefore be problematic for wine storage as they are 3.5″ (approx 90mm) in diameter.

To circumvent this issue options are either a diamond rack which may detract from the overall feel and appearance of your wine cellar and/or a Magnum rack which is designed for large bottle format. German wine bottles are tall while also being referred to as flutes, the bottle type typically represents a sweet wine (New World) however German wines do differ. The main issue with Reisling bottles is their height which presents 2 immediate problems. One being closing the door on a wine fridge and the second having to double up on standard wine racking (depth).
750ml – 2 7/8″ (73mm) to 3 1/2″ (89mm) diameter –  11 1/2″ (292mm) to 13″ (330mm) in length/height
1.5L (Magnums) – 3 9/16″ (91mm) to 4″ (101mm) diameter – 14″ (356mm) in length/height

Did you know?
1) Traditionally if a wine originates from the Mosel the bottle will be green, if the wine is made in the Rhine the bottle will be brown.
2) Larger bottle sizes are named after biblical kings:

Jeroboam: 3 litres (4 bottles)
Rehoboam: 4.5 litres (6 bottles)
Methuselah: 6 litres (8 bottles)
Salmanazar: 9 litres (12 bottles)
Balthazar: 12 litres (16 bottles)
Nebuchadnezzar: 15 litres (20 bottles)
Melchior: 18 litres (24 bottles)
Solomon: 20 litres (28 bottles)

Interesting facts about wine and why the Romans believed it was a daily necessity.

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