Wine Cellars: Avoid These 3 Crucial Mistakes

If you're a wine collector, chances are you've had to store some of your collection for an extended period. Most wine lovers with large collections own specialty storage solutions, whether it is multiple wine racks or refrigerators designed for wine storage. Still others feel that storing wine in a basement is sufficient.

A few years ago, we brought home a few bottles of wine we'd thoroughly enjoyed at a New Mexico winery. We stored the wine and a few months later decided to serve it at a dinner party with some friends. To our disappointment, the wine tasted nothing like we'd remembered. After a few apologies and some investigation the next day, we discovered we'd stored the wine improperly.

Improper Humidity Affects Taste

The wine we'd bought was stored in a very dry area of our house, which accounted for its uneven taste. We have subsequently learned to store wine at 50% to 70% humidity levels. Luckily, our new wine cellar has built in humidity controls, thereby keeping our wines stored at ideal humidty levels.

Hot And Cold

Extreme temperatures are an enemy to wine, whether it's too hot or too cold. Wine is best stored at 55 to 57 degrees. A good wine cellar takes temperature levels into consideration and even allows you to arrange different temperature zones for specific storage needs. Also, air circulating fans should be designed into wine cellars to help maintain a constant temperature and humidity level.


Exposure to too much light can also negatively affect a wine's taste. Even if a bottle is dark colored, keep it out of the sun, as UV rays can hurt wine and increase bottle temperature. Your wine storage area should contain minimal light, especially if you're storing wine in clear bottles.

Other Tips

Believe it or not, vibration is another enemy of stored wine, so keep your wine storage area as vibration free as possible. A lower traffic area is always better, as vibration will tend to be less. We learned long ago that when bringing home wine from our U.S. wine trail trips, store the wine within the car vs. the trunk. Temperature and vibration conditions are much worse in the trunk.

The keys to proper wine storage are optimal temperature, humidity, and low light conditions. As you become more interested in wine, you'll find that attention to these details will enhance the wine's taste and your ultimate enjoyment of your purchase. Cheers!

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About The Author, Jim Hofman
Jim Hofman is an author specializing in wine travel and the enjoyment of wine. For more practical tips on wine storage solutions, you're invited to visit Jim's recommended resource website devoted to wine accessories and wine cellars.