Long term storage in a wine refrigerator
OK OK, I'm sure someone else has posted about this topic, but cut me some slack and allow some new discussion.
Here's the deal; I have a wine problem. I buy a lot and don't have space for a proper cellar. For some reason, in the area where I live (West Los Angeles, Century City), all of the wine storage facilities are currently sold out.
So, I have a 60 bottle Vinotemp wine refrigerator that I've been keeping wine in for several years now. Also, almost all of my closets are full of wine as well. I try to drink those bottles first since I know they're aging at a rapid pace.
With the wine refrigerator, should I worry about storing bottles in there for several years?
Is humidity a factor? I wet a sponge and place it in the frige and replace it every couple of days; then I worry about creating mold (haven't seen it yet).
Of course, the solution would be to buy a proper cellar, but I'm still in negotiatons about that with my interior designer aka wife.
Thanks for any input!
that vinotemp unit is no more effective than your home fridge. a wet kitchen sponge isn't creating the humidity you want for long-term proper storage. i'm assuming if you live in l.a. your house is air-conditioned so climate swings aren't too likely, so the other bottles aren't really in danger of damage. however if you have thousands of dollars worth of bottles busting at the seams, you and your interior designer need to have a frank discussion about proper storage.
Living in Texas and collecting wine, I had to have a storage unit. Bought a Le Cache 450 bottle unit 14 years ago and it's been outstanding. We now live in the bay area so it's not as need since temps are not as severe, still, all by aging wines are in there at a nice 56 degrees.
I have a friend that has a larger collection and he has TWO free standing cellars. He did a closet wine cellar and it was just not a good deal. When you opened the door to go in seemed like all the cold air just rushed out.
If needed, I probably buy another stand alone cellar, another La Cache.
I started of with a 30 bottle cellar several years ago and now have well over 6000 bottles. I like to know that my investment of fine wines are being kept in the best conditions possible. I would suggest that you sit down with your interior designer and find a closet or an area in the garage that you can convert into a cellar. If you rack it properly an 8 x 8 area can store 1200 to 1500 bottles. All the suggestions made earlier are great, a recording thermometer and/or constant monitoring are needed. You need to get a wine room a/c unit to cool the room properly. Of course don't forget the humidity. If you look around the internet you can find site that will help you with the layout and design.
Roughly speaking, a "cellar" temp of 55F is pretty much ideal for storage/aging of wine. RH of ~ 60% is also ideal for the corks, and not too high to allow mold to grow on the labels. That said, you should be OK with the Vinotemp unit. As for the other wines, hm-m, maybe not so OK. What are the temp fluctuations in these closets? A recording thermometer is your friend. Now, if you plan on drinking soon, then higher storage temps, provided that the fluctuations are not high, isn't all that bad. The higher the temp, the sooner the wine will be "aged." What is NOT good is rapid and extreme fluctuations in the temp. Most in-house situations are not good. If you lived in Colorado, and had an area in the NE corner of an unheated cellar, then you'd probably be OK, with a few slabs of rigid insulation and little more. In LA, I'd suspect that you are looking at 60F to 80F with rapid ups and downs - again, a recording thermometer is your friend.
Start sharing your investment $ figures with your wife, and she might encourage you to do a permanent cellar sooner.
re: Bill Hunt
That's a good suggestion on the recording thermometer and you're correct with the temperature fluctuations. During the summer when we're out of the house and the a/c is not on, I'm sure it's in the high 70s and possibly low 80s. Not ideal wine storage by any means.
I worry that getting a 180 bottle count vinotemp (as large as I can go in my current home) will be a short term fix assuming my collection keeps growing and I'll outgrow the 180 unit. But, that's better than a closet of spoiled wine.
Thanks for the input!