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Basics on Storing Wine

Posted on September 28, 2014 at 9:30 PM

On storing wine: Keep the temperature constant. For proper aging of wine, refrigeration is a MUST in most parts of the world; even a below-ground cellar is not cool enough!

Please do not store your wine in a "wine jail", on your counter or in any room that reaches over 70°F as the wine begins to oxidize. An ideal temperature for storing a ALL wine collection is 55°F (12.2°C). Letting the temperature drop below 55°F won't hurt the wine; it'll only slow down the aging process. (e.g. keeping it in the refrigerator is preferred if you don't have a wine cooler or cellar).

Rises in temperature force wine through the cork; temperature drops cause air to be sucked back in. (Why I'm a fan of the new screw tops!)

Temperature in a wine storage area should be as CONSTANT as possible. All changes should occur slowly. The greater the changes in temperature a wine suffers, the greater the premature aging of the wine from over breathing. The temperature should NEVER fluctuate more than 3°F (1.6°C) a day and 5°F (2.7°C) a year, especially with red wines, which will suffer more temperature-related problems than white wines. I personally lost some valuable & delicious wine when my stand alone wine cooler's temperature regulator went bad. Below is a fairly inexpensive way to preserve your wine!

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Care for Wine in your Wine Cellar

Wine is a living organism, and like all living organisms, and like all living things, it requires a specific type of environment in order to age properly. Aging is a term for the biochemical change that happens within the wine. Whether that change is for the better or for the worse, relies on the storage conditions of the wine. There are four main factors to consider when planning your cellar: 

1. Constant temperature; 2. Humidity; 3. Darkness; 4. Lack of vibration. 

It is imperative that the temperature of the cellar remain CONSTANT. Experts vary in their beliefs of the ideal cellar temperature. Recommendations range from 55 - 60° F. The cooler the temperature, the slower the aging process. A cool constant temperature (we recommend 55° F) insures the wine will age slowly and predictably, enhancing all the desirable characteristics of age while protecting the fragile elements such as fruitiness (this includes white AND red wine). So, do NOT shut off or turn down the refrigeration when you're in the cellar; put on a jacket and save your wine!

In addition to maintaining a cool constant temperature, refrigeration is needed to maintain both temperature and proper humidity level (somewhere between 50 percent to a maximum of 70 percent). The corks need the dampness in order to stay wet and keep the wine properly sealed. Normal air conditioning will extract the moisture from the cellar. This will cause the corks to dry and will allow liquid to escape from the bottle and air to enter. On the flip side, you do not want a dripping wet cellar. This will cause the labels to rot and fall off the bottles. Without those precious labels, the wine is virtually worthless at auction.

Again, the key to proper wine storage is stability. Temperature and humidity have to be kept at a CONSTANT level. Proper refrigeration is the best way to insure this. 

This brings us to the final two elements, darkness and stillness. Wine should always be kept away from direct sunlight because ultraviolet radiation destroys its color and flavor. The ideal wine cellar should be softly lit ( UV free) when occupied by the wine enthusiast and otherwise left in complete darkness. This why an all glass wine cellar or glass walls are never recommended for the safety of the wine and the longevity of the refrigeration unit .We strongly recommend only a very limited amount of glass in a cellar which MUST be dual pane glass and NOT in a frameless door(s) which cannot seal in the cooled air.  Although you may see this on the Internet, It is wrong and it will nullify the warranty on the cooling system.

If you are interested in a wine cellar and would like to learn more about the importance of proper wine storage, please contact us.


This was a conversion from a porch to a wine cellar for a client in Hillsborough, CA. (See below)

Another view of the porch that will turn into a beautiful, climate controlled wine cellar. (See below)

Fish Eye View:

Kathleen designed entire cellar including all finishes: slate tile, wall & ceiling color and lighting.


Two decanting areas with utility drawers & glass rack and wood case storage.

View leaving wine cellar:

Individual racking with lighted display row.