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Wine storage solutions


My understanding is that wine matures slower at low temperatures, which is said to be a good thing. Thus variation to a warmer temperature would mean wine matures faster, thus its a bad thing.

Are you saying that variation by itself is not bad or that warmer temperatures aren’t detrimental?

We take so much about wine from books and experts that it is good to test the ‘common knowledge’.

(I recall Nick Alabaster doing a 5 year trial of corks comparing a case of the same wines with half standing upright, half on their sides. Conclusion, no problem standing upright for 5 years)


I’m saying that variation itself is not bad (or, to be more precise, that I have seen no evidence for it).

At a certain level, of course high temperatures are detrimental. And wine must age differently, and at different speeds. at different temperatures. But as far as I can tell, the evidence base is poor for the ideal temperature, and the temperature at which wine becomes seriously damaged.

In practice though, I am risk-averse, and keep my wines in a fridge set to 12C :slight_smile:


This! :smiley:


certain chemical reactions happen quicker at elevated temperatures…hence why we have fridges (for food)!

but my understanding is that a doubling of these occurs every 10 deg, so you would have to constantly store at 22deg to see any difference…perhaps this is the modern kitchen vs a cellar analogy ?

Ive never found anything concrete on fluctuation and even asked top chemistry bods I worked with if they could think of anything…they couldn’t !


My understanding is that temperature fluctuation is less about the direct effect on the wine itself, and more that the change in pressure inside the bottle can effect the seal created by the cork (and in extreme cases force the cork to start coming out of the bottle) - more on that in this piece from Janics:



certainly the effect of increased temp on the pressure in the bottle is of concern - just think how much more force there is on a cork in a bottle of fizz when its been out of the fridge for a while

don’t worry about the wine expansion - the co-efficient of expansion of water (close to wine) means a 75cl bottle would expand enough to take the ullage in the bottle.


Yes, that is the rule of thumb I learned in chemistry, but it does vary a significant amount between reactions. So with all the various reactions in wine, aging will not just speed up with temperature - you will also get a different endpoint. And a different one again with temperature variations. Which endpoint is best is another question.

Also there may be biological processes involved if the bottling was not sterile. I have seen claims, for example, that brett flourishes at a particular temperature (in the 20s I think).


I suppose the big aspect of the reactions is based around the phenols and flavour profiles that will be created. Also risk of higher temperatures meaning you lose the light ends (sorry - refinery term) which would exacerbate some issues

I did wonder about Brett and also cork taint - no experience on temps for either being a problem


It is the air in the ullage that is key in considering how temperature changes may move the cork. The pressure of that would increase due to a) the reduced volume due to the expanding wine and b) the increased temperature of the air, and it is that pressure change that would push/pull the cork. (The glass of the bottle expands a lot less than the wine and air, so has a neglible effect)

I once did a back-of-the-fag-packet calculation, and reckoned that the change in pressure was equivalent to a force on the cork corresponding to the weight of a smallish apple. So unless the cork has deteriorated it is unlikely move the cork in and out, but it could be important for very old wines with corks that have lost their elasticity and slide very easily. Here is my calculation - http://www.winenous.co.uk/wp/archives/8173 - feel free to challenge my assumptions, but I don’t think any error in them (I actually failed to account for the expansion in the wine) would change the overall conclusion.

Edit: On checking, the failure to account for the expansion in the wine was a major omission that could well change the conclusion. I shall return to my blog post and either delete it or fix the calculations


Here is a bit more on reaction rates at different temperatures:


Interesting article! I’d say the main point coming out of it is that wine stored at higher temperatures may be affected by reactions taking place that wouldn’t otherwise take place or only very very slowly at lower temperatures. As well as the normal aging running faster. The former could well affect the quality, the latter only if you stick with the drinking window which assumes 13 degree storage.


Now a happy owner of a Climadiff cabinet. This week has been spent emptying various wardrobes and hiding holes of various stashed supplies.

Much head scratching on the most logical way of loading the cabinet and also updating Cellar Tracker to reflect a certain amount of “leakage”.

Somewhat shocked to see what c250 bottles looks like in one place. Think members reserves can take the strain for the forseeable future.

OH happy to have wardrobe space back though!


I did wonder about organising mine based on expected drinking period. So the top shelf might be now to '25, the next shelf '25 to '30 and so on. And then rotate so after the top shelf is finished it becomes '40-'45 or whatever. However I decided that wouldn’t work because if you have a 12 bottle case of one wine then you might be drinking it over it’s complete drinking window which might be ten years or more.

So in the end I organised by region. Regions I have a lot of like Bordeaux and Rhone got their own shelves, New World another and so on. Seemed to make more sense to me.

For documenting I used the shelf number, followed by F or B for front or back and then a row number. Not sure how disciplined I’ll be in keeping that last number up to date as wines are removed and wines from the upper rows move down into the lower ones but we’ll see how it goes! There’s always going to be less than ten shelves and less than ten rows so it’s only a three character ‘bin number.’

Theoretically if everything stays well documented I can actually put stuff in randomly rather than a region per shelf. I’ll have to see how it goes in practice!


I went for a plan that saw one shelf stocked with wines to not even bother touching for another 5 years.

Then a Musar shelf(!).

Then a New World/old World split with the longer ageing wines in bottom rows.

Finally a whites shelf.

At least there is some sort of logic. Will see how it progresses over time.


A Musar shelf! I like that. I have a ‘rest of Europe and the Med’ shelf which is currently rather heavily biased towards Musar.

I didn’t opt for the longer aging wines in the bottom row because eventually I’d have to shuffle them up and put newer ones underneath which would be a pain.

I also keep a load out that are for more immediate drinking and figure I’ll restock the immediate drinking periodically so I’m not having to shuffle those rows too often!

It’s really not that simple is it! :smiley:


:smiley: Isn’t it incredible how inventive one can be when it comes to hiding storing wine…


I started out with broad categories of wine on different shelves of my (2) fridges, but it has all broken down now. It’s more important to squeeze bottles in, wherever they fit.

Occasionally I tidy things up in limited areas, but it would be so time-consuming to resystematise the whole thing and change all my records of where things are. All I do now by way of system is try to keep similar bottle shapes together for neater, and possibly more eficient, packing, and I do my best to keep the same wines of the same vintage together.

Here’s a tip though: use different shelves for different vintages of the same wine - it makes them easier to find and reduces retrieval errors.

A stock-take every few years is also a good idea as inevitably errors in records creep in. I only record which shelf things are one. It doesn’t save much retrieval time to know exactly where the bottle is - usually at the back of the bottom layer.


But “the former” could also be a desirable reaction. Who knows? Or it could depend on personal taste.


the expansion of the wine is negligible so id go with your assumptions :slight_smile:


Yeah, you’re right, it’s about 1/10 that of gases.

I just had this memory of checking it some time ago, and it being a lot greater than I thought it was. At the time it made quite a difference to my calculation, but it must have been another problem I was trying to solve.

Edit: Ah, hang on a sec - it WAS the same problem I was looking at. Even if the coeff of expansion is a lot smaller for wine than air, there is a much larger volume of wine in the bottle than there is air. So even if the wine expands by a small fraction, the absolute volume increase in wine is quite large compared to the volume of air that it compresses.