Should I be worried about small temperature and humidity changes in my wine cellar?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I store my wine in a wine fridge where the humidity and temperature regularly fluctuate, between 57 and 65 percent humidity and 50° and 52.8° F. Should I be worried?

—John, Delaware

Dear John,

In terms of storage conditions, your wines are fine. Those are very small variations! Wine coolers are designed to cycle on and off, just like the air-conditioning units in our homes—they start cooling when the temperature reaches the top of the range at which it’s set, and that range can be as large as 10° or 15° F. Keep in mind that the temperature of the ambient air inside a cellar or cooling unit and the temperature of the liquid inside the wine bottles are not necessarily the same, and the temperature of the wine inside the bottles fluctuates much less dramatically than the temperature of the air inside the cellar.

I’d be surprised if you found a wine fridge that fluctuated any less than yours does. But if you’re still concerned about the actual temperature of your wines, here’s a tip for truer readings: Fill an empty wine bottle with water and put a probe-style thermometer through the cork; place the bottle on the shelf with the rest of your wines and you’ll always have a clear picture of the temperature of your wines.

—Dr. Vinny

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