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,

I see a lot of questions regarding humidity. Wine writer Matt Kramer wrote in his article Wine Myths that humidity is not important for the wine buyer, citing that 1) the wine is already in the bottle and less affected by changes in humidity, and 2) the wine is placed on its side, continually moistening the cork. He does mention the importance in the winery as oak barrels are used, which are directly affected by humidity. What do you think?

—Chad, Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Dear Chad,

I believe that constant temperature is the most important aspect of cellaring, but I think humidity is important, too. I’ve had corks that were dried out, not only crumbling in my hands and making me swear, but also prematurely aging beautiful bottles of wine and making me swear. As long as most ageworthy wines continue to be bottled under cork, my recommendation will remain to keep a humid cellar.

Let me put it this way: having a cellar with the recommended 70 percent humidity won’t hurt your wines. And humidity is one of the easiest things to control. If you need more, you just put a pan of water in your cellar. Boom, humidity! I have a lot of money and memories stocked away in my cellar. Why would I skimp on something so simple? By the way, I almost never encounter a crumbly cork from my own humid cellar.

—Dr. Vinny


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