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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Is it safe to store wine in a cigar "coolidor"?
—Luciana, Bridgewater, N.J.
For those not familiar with the term, a "coolidor," or cigar cooler-humidor, is a temperature- and humidity-controlled unit for storing cigars, similar—but not identical!—to a wine fridge. I posed your question to David Savona, executive editor of Wine Spectator sister publication Cigar Aficionado, and he clarified that cigars should be stored in conditions that mimic the tropics, where most of them are rolled. That means that a typical "coolidor" is kept at a humidity level of about 70 percent and a temperature of around 70° F.
Proper wine storage calls for conditions that mimic a wine cellar: typically a temperature of 55° F and about 70 percent humidity. But humidity is relative to temperature and, long story short story (that’s a reference to the famous Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story cigar, which is one of my favorites!), if you set the temperature of your coolidor to 55° F, your cigars will dry out. “While being cool is OK for a cigar, and won't hurt it, it will make it very difficult to reach those levels of humidity required to keep them supple and smoking well,” Savona says. “When cigars are left in dry conditions for extended periods of time, they lose their flavor.” And that's why you don’t want to store cigars in your wine cellar.
On the other hand, you won't be putting your wine in any near-term danger by storing it in a 70° F coolidor for the relative short-term. It's not an ideal place to keep a bottle for years, and your wine could eventually show some signs of premature aging, but it won't be in danger of suffering from any sort of heat damage.
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