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 heard that cardboard boxes should not be used for long-term storage in a wine cellar because they release a damaging chemical. Is this correct?
—Rob K., Portland, Ore.
Cardboard boxes are fine for storage, especially for those of us who can't afford to build the cellar of our dreams. If you place a cardboard box so the wine bottles inside are on their side, you can keep the corks moist and protect them from drying out, while also shielding the wine from any light. But cardboard boxes generally aren't very strong, and they can deteriorate with age, especially if they get wet.
Also, there is some concern that cardboard may be susceptible to the unwanted compound TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole), which can impart a musty taste to wines. However, it's also possible for TCA to be found in cellar walls, in wooden racks, or even in the corks of wine bottles, so I don't think you should avoid cardboard boxes on that account.