ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

We store our wine in a cellar that has a consistent temperature of 59° F, and a humidity of 89 percent. Is there any danger of moisture forming on the inside of the foil above the cork that would damage the wine over time?

—Ken Wenninger, Seattle, Wash.

Dear Ken,

Humidity is good in a wine cellar, but too much humidity can encourage the growth of mold and mildew, which could make your wine labels stinky and could affect the integrity of the cellar itself. If you notice mold on your labels, walls or racking, you might want to look into a dehumidifier. Depending on the size of your cellar, a small one starts at about $40 and goes up from there. The ideal humidity for a cellar is somewhere between 50 to 80 percent, the target should be right about 70. With all that humidity in your cellar, you might notice there is more condensation when you finally pull the bottles out of the cellar. As they warm up, they might feel wet and some of the labels might start to slide off.

As far as too much moisture harming your corks, I am not concerned. The reason a humid cellar is a good cellar is because it keeps the corks moist and prevents them from drying out and becoming brittle. After all, the other side of the cork is wet from the wine for this very reason.

—Dr. Vinny


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