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 are building a home with a wine cellar in Colorado at an altitude of 9,300 feet. Any tips on storing wine at altitude?

—Mark S., Neshanic Station, N.J.

Dear Mark,

No matter what the altitude, all wines age best when they're kept at consistent, cool temperatures away from light, heat and vibration.

I checked with your soon-to-be neighbor Richard Betts, who's a Master Sommelier at Little Nell in Aspen, Colo. He said that it tends to be dryer at the higher altitudes, so keep on eye on the humidity in your cellar, which should ideally be around 70 percent. The good news is that at higher altitudes there is less atmospheric pressure, so there's relatively less oxygen in the air and the wines open up more slowly. "You get a protracted look at the evolution of older wines in the glass ... they don't fall apart as quickly," says Betts.

—Dr. Vinny


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