When you're storing wine long-term, you need to carefully monitor the temperature and the humidity in the room. Extremes in either can negatively affect the taste of your wine—in some cases, it can even ruin it. The best way to store your wine long term is at a climate-controlled storage facility, where conditions will be kept within limits that allow the wine to age well and develop its flavor. To help you understand why climate-controlled storage is important, read on for more information about how temperature and humidity can affect wine.
As wine ages, numerous chemical reactions occur within the wine. These chemical reactions are the reason why well-aged wines develop a nuanced, complex flavor. Storage temperature is important because it affects how fast these chemical reactions occur.
Storing wine at a temperature that's too low causes these chemical reactions to slow down or stop entirely—this results in your wine aging very slowly or not aging at all. In the worst case, when temperatures dip below freezing, the wine freezes and shatters the bottle.
High temperatures, on the other hand, speed up the rate at which these chemical reactions occur. However, this doesn't result in your wine aging faster—it typically results in spoiled wine. If you have ever accidentally left a bottle of wine in your car on a hot, sunny day, you'd know how quickly high temperatures can cause a bottle of wine to spoil—at those temperatures, it happens within hours.
Historically, wine was stored in cellars that were dug into the ground. Cellar temperatures are around 52 to 56 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the perfect zone for wine storage. At these temperatures, chemical reactions occur at a rate that allows wine to develop its flavor without spoiling.
Humidity is another very important component of long-term wine storage, and it's the reason why storing wine in the refrigerator can cause it to quickly develop an off, sour taste.
Refrigerators have a very low level of humidity inside. When humidity drops to such a low level, the cork begins to dry out. The cork becomes more porous as it dries, which allows air to enter into the wine bottle. Air that enters the wine bottle causes the wine to oxidize, and oxidation is the process that turns red wine into red wine vinegar.
Most ready-to-drink wines have sulfites added in order to stop this from happening, but wine that's meant to be aged typically does not contain sulfites. If the humidity level in the room you're storing your wine collection in drops too low, you could be left with bottles full of vinegar rather than bottles full of wine.
High humidity poses no threat to the wine, but it can lead to mold growing on the labels. When you're storing wine, humidity levels must be strictly controlled in order to prevent the corks from drying and stop mold from destroying the labels on the bottles. A humidity level of 70% is often regarded as the perfect humidity level for long-term wine storage.
As you can see, climate control is vital when you're storing wine for a long period of time. Fluctuations outside of acceptable temperature and humidity levels can cause wine to spoil, ruining the wine that you've stored. If you're planning on storing wine long-term, rent a unit at a climate-controlled storage facility in order to safeguard your collection. For more information, reach out to a company like LA Fine Arts & Wine Storage.