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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I have wine in my refrigerator, but I need my refrigerator space back. Will it hurt the wine if I remove it and put it in my cabinet after it’s been chilled?
—Celeste, Dothan, Ala.
I get this question a lot, and I think it’s connected to one of the biggest myths about beer out there. The legend is that if you take a beer in and out of the refrigerator it will get “skunky.” In fact, beer goes through several cold-to-warm cycles during production, and gradual temperature changes will not harm your brew. More concerning is the effect of ultraviolet light on beers, particularly those more susceptible in clear or green glass bottles. Turns out that hops are light sensitive and exposure to direct sunlight can cause the creation of skunky thiols, or mercaptans, causing a beer to become “light-struck.”
It’s also important to keep wine from being exposed to ultraviolet light, which can cause undesirable chemical reactions. But you can relax about taking your wine in and out of a cooler or refrigerator, from cellar temperature to room temperature and back again—none of this will harm your wine. What is more concerning would be rapid or extreme heat or extreme cold scenarios, or doing this over and over again, like several hundred or thousand times. Please don’t do that.
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