Q: I have used a medium sized passive cellar for the past two years. It has had a reasonably stable temperature range. However, the humidity during the winter months has been approximately 30-35 percent. I have also noticed that the wine levels (ullage) have decreased by approximately 1/4 of an inch. Should I be concerned with these ullage levels? Some of the literature I have read suggests that low humidity is only a problem if the cork is defective. Also, if I correct the humidity problem going forward, will there be any impact to long-term cellaring? --Matt
A: It depends upon your wine collection. If it consists primarily of wines that you plan to drink in the short term, I wouldn't really worry. For the purposes of resale, however, almost all the wine auction houses now demand that consignments come from a temperature and humidity-controlled wine storage facility as opposed to a passive one. If you are storing wines to be consumed in the next 5-15 years, then you should thinks about remedying the situation. For starters, you could place a bucket filled with water in the cellar or install a humidifier. There are cohesive arguments that low humidity is not as much a contributing factor to deterioration in wine as was originally thought. If you're interested in experimentation, you could mark the present wine levels on the bottles and see how much they continue to deteriorate once you have installed humidity controls.
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