Is fluorescent lighting bad for wine?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I visited a high-end wine retailer and was surprised to see their premium wines displayed under bright fluorescent lighting. Doesn't that damage the wines?

—Steve, Canberra, Australia

Dear Steve,

You’re right that certain types of light, principally ultraviolet light, can harm wine—exposure to it is one of the four primary considerations for proper wine storage, along with temperature, humidity and vibration. And it's one of the reasons most wine is bottled in tinted glass, to give it a little extra UV protection.

Ultraviolet light damage isn't instantly perceptible, but over time, a wine exposed to UV light can age prematurely. Ultraviolet light—electromagnetic radiation that comes from the sun, tanning lamps and black lights—can harm a person’s skin, eyes, as well as degrade polymers and dyes, so it's no surprise that it's also not good for wine. UV rays can break down molecules and accelerate degradation in wine, hence the premature aging risk.

Not all light is necessarily bad, however. LED lights (which are also made in tube format and can easily be confused for fluorescent lights) are best, because they emit a fraction of the heat and UV radiation of most other light sources.

—Dr. Vinny

Collecting Storage Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Is it true that you can clean a red wine stain with white wine? What's the best way to clean a wine stain?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers some tried and true methods and advice for …

Jun 17, 2019

How long will an unopened bottle of Champagne stay good?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how sparkling wine ages.

Jun 14, 2019

Are sulfites added to wines for shipping?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where sulfites come from, and why wines often …

Jun 12, 2019

When is the best time to drink Port?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains which types of Ports are best served after a …

Jun 10, 2019

Is a 93-point wine from a good vintage the same quality as a 93-point wine from a poor vintage?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how vintage is and is not considered when rating …

Jun 7, 2019

What is a wine’s "style"?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the broad styles, or types, of wine, and what it …

Jun 5, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search