The debate over the importance of humidity has long been taken up by wine folks. One school of thought is that high humidity keeps a cork damp so it won't dry out or crumble, possibly exposing the wine to oxygen. My fellow columnist Matt Kramer is skeptical of the role humidity plays in the cellar. My general distrust of corks includes the crumbling effect. Usually, older corks are susceptible to cracking and crumbling. But I find younger corks are just as big a pain. No one likes to fish crumbled cork out of their glass of wine, even if it hasn't been oxidized.
Earlier this year, I tested a digital humidity and temperature monitor made by a company called AcuRite. I used the battery-operated gizmo for a few months and consider it a handy tool that anyone with a cellar would appreciate.
It sells for about $15, and keeps track of both the cellar temperature (highs and lows) and its humidity (in three ranges: high, low and OK). The humidity in the cellar was mostly high, though it occasionally changed. More important, I now have an accurate temperature guage, something I haven't tracked too closely in the past.
Cool or a steady temperature and a dark, vibration-free environment are essential for good wine storage. When it comes to humidity there is less consensus. But keeping track of your cellar conditions is important, and gadgets like the AcuRite can help.