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,
I have recently noticed some mold on the wine racking in my cellar. What should I do, and how do I get rid of it? I think it has recently appeared and doesn’t look as if any of the wine is damaged.
—Charles, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Since your letter originally asked how to get rid of the “mole” in your cellar, I hope I was correct in assuming you meant “mold.” If not, I’ve heard a mixture of soap, castor oil and cayenne pepper can be a very effective repellent.
Back to the mold. Cellars are (properly) humid, and humidity causes mold. Nothing to be alarmed about—usually it’s just on the surface, and you can wipe it off with a clean, soft cloth. Keep an eye on your bottle labels, though, because once mold attacks the labels, there’s not much you can do about it.
Surface mold won’t affect your wines inside their bottles, but you should try to keep it under control and watch the humidity in your cellar, to make sure there’s not a larger, systemic problem. The target humidity should be right about 70 percent, which helps keep your corks from drying out. If it’s too humid in your cellar, you might think about putting in a dehumidifier—a small one starts at about $50.
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