Is it safe to store my wine in cardboard boxes?

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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.

Dear Rob,

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.

—Dr. Vinny

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