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,
Regarding your suggestion of adding a small humidifier to a wine cellar, what about the problems of capacity of the humidifier? The ones I’ve seen only run for a few hours, and then they need more water. Corks like consistency, and I don’t want to have to replenish water every day or so.
—Chuck G., Raleigh, N.C.
I see that most of the humidifiers out there marketed towards consumers start off at 1-gallon capacity, but larger ones are certainly out there. A quick look at some search-engine results shows me an 8-gallon one for less than $100.
There are other ways to get (and keep) the humidity of a cellar to its optimal 50 to 70 percent relative humidity target. Start by making sure the space is insulated, so the humidity is staying where you want it. The cheapest way to add humidity is to simply place a pan of water on the floor. If the racking or walls are made of wood, you can mist with a water bottle now and again. There area also some really nice decorative humidifiers—a fancy way of saying “indoor fountain.” You can hang them on the wall or put them on the floor, and they have the dual purpose of being decorative and exposing a lot of surface area so the water can evaporate.
I imagine that for most people, humidity isn’t much of a concern. If you’re worried that your wine storage is too dry, you can always get a hygrometer to measure it, and they start at around $15 or so.
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