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 are considering building a small, 500-bottle cellar in our basement. Can you tell us whether temperature control or humidity control is more important?
—Jody, Cheyenne, Wyo.
The ideal cellar maintains a constant, reasonably humid, 55-degree-ish temperature, free of strong light, heat, temperature fluctuation or vibrations. Of these, I'd say the most important element is a constant temperature—hopefully a cool constant temperature (ideally under 60 degrees F). Higher temperatures accelerate the effects of aging. Temperature fluctuation can result in a cork expanding and contracting, which can introduce oxygen into a bottle, prematurely aging it via oxidation. For most people, humidity isn't much of a problem, as long as you keep the bottles lying on their sides to keep the corks moist and you don't live in an arid setting. Strong light and vibration are to be avoided, so please abandon the idea of using your old tanning bed on top of the washing machine to store your wine.
Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...
Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more
Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.
Passionate about wine? Wine Spectator magazine is looking for an enthusiastic copy editor in the New York office.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash