The term, “wine cellar” has more meaning for maintaining the beverage than simply because it’s an out of the way location to safely store bottles. The cellar was traditionally the ideal location to store wine for two very important reasons: protection from sunlight and steady cool temperatures. In today’s society, it’s possible to create ideal temperatures and climates almost anywhere. This promotes an optimum experience when you first uncork that vintage bottle.
Sunlight Can Cause More Damage than You May Realize
You may have seen what ultraviolet rays from the Sun can do to various pigments. Over time, this UV light can break down the pigment in paints and labels altering the appearance and making an object look faded. This is one of the most important aspects to any collection as sunlight can cause irreparable damage to various things such as labels and corks. If the cork becomes compromised and allows oxygen into a bottle of wine, the once prized beverage can become spoiled.
Heat is another complication wrought by the Sun. Even if the room is kept at ideal temperatures, the intensity of the Sun’s light can still cause the ambient temperature within a bottle to increase. This may cause damage to the wine itself compromising the taste of the liquid.
Cellars were ideal for wine storage as these rooms provided optimal protection against the sunlight. As temperatures of underground rooms is considerably lower due to less exposure to the Sun, basements have often been converted into wine cellars.
Cellars and Basements May Not Be Cool Enough
The ideal temperature of storing wine is between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It is often cited that 55 degrees is the perfect temperature for storage. In some homes and other establishments, it may not be cool enough within the basement or cellar to maximize the effect of proper wine aging. Boilers, furnaces, water heaters and more increase the ambient temperature of the area and could create an environment too warm for your investment.
Air conditioning units specifically designed for wine cellars may be the perfect answer to keep these areas from becoming too warm. These devices can be small enough to maintain the temperature of a small area to more robust units that can keep thousands of bottles cool simultaneously. The cost of these units is dependent on the amount of space the wine cellar utilizes. In small, private, walk-in wine storage rooms, these air conditioning units could be quite small.
The Balance of Humidity
Many experts believe that you need to store wine bottles in a slightly humid area as to not dry out the cork. Drying out the cork could compromise the contents of the bottle by allowing air into the container. However, too much humidity could cause a problem with mold growth and possible label damage of the collectible.
As a wine collection could easily reach in the tens of thousands of dollars, providing optimal conditions may protect your investment. Don’t assume that the crawl-space under the house is ideal simply because it’s dark. Various circumstances may still cause the temperature of an area to rise. Develop an ideal location for your wine collection and prevent the elements from laying waste to the contents of each bottle.