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,

My friend who changed my perception of wine has a 700+ bottle closet cellar at his home. Now that my palate has come around, I realized he doesn't have humidity in the cellar, and all his wines corks seem to break on the corkscrew very easily. And comparing exact bottles, mine always seem to taste a lot better than his. How can I help him out? What would be the best way to add humidity to his cellar, and what would be the cheapest way to solve the problem?

—Chevy K., Glendale, Calif.

Dear Chevy,

The cheapest way to add humidity to a cellar is to place a pan of water on the floor, or mist the cellar walls and racks (hopefully they're wood) with a water bottle now and again. If you're concerned about the relative humidity in your wine storage space, you should get a hygrometer to measure humidity—there are many models that you can get in the $30-$40 range (ideal cellar humidity is around 70%). You can also get a room or desktop humidifier; these are available at most hardware and appliance stores in about the $50-$100 range. If you have slightly more money to spend and are big into atmosphere, you could get a decorative humidifier—also known as an indoor fountain.

—Dr. Vinny


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