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.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I am concerned about aging my red wines without a proper cellar. Due to space constraints, I have to store my wines on racks in my den. The room is a constant 19 degrees C [66 F] and windowless. I have no idea about the humidity. Since this is warmer (and likely drier) than recommended, should I expect a shorter shelf life? Is there a formula I can apply based on room temperature? For example, if a wine is expected to be drinkable for 10 to15 years at 13 degrees C, can I expect it to mature in 5 to 7 years at 19 degrees C?

—Frank K., Maple Ridge, British Columbia

Dear Frank,

Most folks don’t have a fancy wine cellar and make do with what they can. A constant temperature, away from direct light, heat and vibration is a great start. Most homes are warmer and drier than proper cellars, so, yes, in the long term, your wines would be prone to aging sooner (and possibly suffering from dry corks). But no, there isn’t any exact formula for that.

I think you’ll be OK, unless you’re talking about aging expensive bottles for upwards of 10 or 20 years. And if you have a collection of expensive wines that you’re aging for the long term, perhaps you should consider spending a fraction of your wine budget on a wine cooler or another more aging-friendly setup.

—Dr. Vinny


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