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Wine cellar

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Title: Wine cellar  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Glossary of winemaking terms, Buttery (shop), Tel Kabri, Basement, Servants' quarters
Collection: Rooms, Wine Packaging and Storage
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Wine cellar

An underground wine cellar

A wine cellar is a storage room for wine in bottles or barrels, or more rarely in carboys, amphorae, or plastic containers. In an active wine cellar, important factors such as temperature and humidity are maintained by a climate control system. In contrast, passive wine cellars are not climate-controlled, and are usually built underground to reduce temperature swings. An aboveground wine cellar is often called a wine room, while a small wine cellar (fewer than 500 bottles) is sometimes termed a wine closet. The household department responsible for the storage, care and service of wine in a great mediaeval house was termed the buttery. Large wine cellars date back over 3700 years.[1]

Wine bottles stored in a wine cellar at Jesus College, Oxford

Contents

  • Purpose 1
  • Conditions 2
  • Active versus passive 3
    • Debate on humidity 3.1
  • See also 4
  • References 5

Purpose

Wine cellars protect alcoholic beverages from potentially harmful external influences, providing darkness and a constant temperature. Wine is a natural, perishable food product. Left exposed to heat, light, vibration or fluctuations in temperature and humidity, all types of wine can spoil. When properly stored, wines not only maintain their quality but many actually improve in aroma, flavor, and complexity as they mature.

Conditions

A sherry solera over the ground
An above ground wine cellar in Runcu - Romania

Wine can be stored satisfactorily between 7–18 °C (45–64 °F) as long as any variations are gradual. A temperature of 13 °C (55 °F), much like that found in the caves used to store wine in France, is ideal for both short-term storage and long-term aging of wine. Note that wine generally matures differently and more slowly at a lower temperature than it does at a higher temperature.[2] When the temperature swings are significant, 14 degrees or more, it will cause the wine to breathe through the cork which significantly speeds up the aging process. Between 10–14 °C (50–57 °F), wines will age normally.[3]

Active versus passive

Tasting room of port wine in a wine cellar of a producer

Wine cellars can be either active or passively cooled. Active wine cellars are highly insulated and need to be properly constructed. They require specialized wine cellar conditioning and cooling systems to maintain the desired temperature and humidity. In a very dry climate, it may be necessary to actively humidify the air, but in most areas this is not necessary. Passive wine cellars must be located in naturally cool and damp areas with minor seasonal and diurnal temperature variations—for example, a basement in a temperate climate. Passive cellars may be less predictable, but cost nothing to operate and are not affected by power outages.

Debate on humidity

Some wine experts debate the importance of humidity for proper wine storage. In the

  1. ^ Wilford, John Noble (22 November 2013). "Wine Cellar, Well Aged, Is Revealed in Israel".  
  2. ^ "The Science of Aging Wine". Vintage Cellars. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Lichine, Alexis (1967). Alexis Lichine's Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits. London: Cassell & Company Ltd. Chp 6, p.22–24. 
  4. ^ M. Kramer "Seeking Closure" The Wine Spectator pg 36 October 31st, 2007

References

A table for drinking and gathering in a Sonoma wine cellar

See also

[3]

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