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Wine storage: Humidity

Posted by Callum Dooley on

Humidity is a key factor in long term storage of wines.  Air that is too dry will simply dry the cork out and allow oxygen to enter the bottles of wine which will spoil the wine through oxidation of the alcohols inside the bottle.  Not only does the wine spoil but if the air is dry for a long period of time, the bottles will begin to leak as the cork will no longer fit snuggly.  If you don’t check the wines for extended periods of time, the fridge could be damaged.  If one bottle leaks, bacteria can feed on the spillages which will lead to mould growth.

Air that is too wet can also be damaging as the cabinet can become moist inside if the water molecules evaporate and condense on the side of the wine cabinet.  This will lead to mould growth inside the cabinet as mould loves moisture!  It will also mean that some of the bottles will be damaged, in particular the label as the lettering will smudge.  It’s not all bad news though, the cork will remain moist so the wine will be absolutely fine to drink!

The ideal humidity levels for the above problems to not occur is between 60 and 85% relative humidity.  Wine cabinets have active humidifiers and also sensors which monitor the humidity level within the cabinet, these maintain the internal humidity between 55and 85% and in most cases will deliver a warning that is audible or visible if the humidity has strayed out of the tolerance range for extended periods of time.

In hotter, dryer countries most wine cabinets will be delivered with a water tray which can be filled.  The water will evaporate and the water molecules will be distributed evenly throughout the wine cabinet via the internal fans, therefore raising the relative humidity within the cabinet.  In cooler countries, the humidity generally isn’t an issue as the air is generally quite moist.

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