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,

A few days each summer, the temperature inside my house may rise to 80 degrees. At what temperature, and for what duration, will wine quality start to deteriorate?

—Larry J., Auburn, Wash.

Dear Larry,

Your house hits 80 degrees every summer? Yikes! You don't want to keep wine for 10 years under those conditions, that's for sure. If you drink your wine a day or two after you bring it home from the store, you could just pop it in the fridge until then—but if you want to age your wine, that's another story.

For proper aging, my advice is to build a cellar or buy a temperature-controlled wine storage unit. If that's not an option, you should just chill out and do the best with what you have. Try to avoid wine's four biggest enemies: excessive temperature fluctuations, light, heat and vibration. For many people, this means nothing more than dedicating some room in the closet for their wine. At the very least, you could keep your bottles in Styrofoam wine shippers for an extra bit of insulation.

Even so, you'll probably want to pop those corks sooner rather than later. Every wine is different, but a few days at 80 degrees is likely to have a noticeable effect on most bottles.

—Dr. Vinny

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