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Ideal Temperature for a plug-in Wine Cellar?

anewton Jul 17, 2007 07:17 PM

My fiancee and I recently bought a 220 bottle-capacity wine cellar from an Ontario company called Cellar Nuvo. The fridge unit can be set anywhere from 52-64 degrees. The manufacturer recommends setting the temperature at 57. However, I have read elsewhere that the ideal temperature for long-term storage (i.e. 10+ years) is 50. I cannot find a consistent opinion re: wine storage. Wine Spectator seems to advocate lower temperatures...i.e. 50.

The strange thing about this cellar is that it does not offer a humidity control. I am not sure if the humidity is pre-set? The room it is in should be fairly humid; however, humidity here in the Pacific Northwest fluctuates radically between winter and summer.

Anyway, my real question is about temperature. Currently I have the temp set at 56. Comments?

  1. w
    WineTravel Jul 17, 2007 07:26 PM

    The key is that the temp does not fluctuate.. The "ideal" temp is 55 degrees. However, a few degrees either way won't matter. The colder the cellar the longer it will take for the wines to age/mature. So, actually some people prefer to keep it a little warmer to hasten the aging process. A couple degrees doesn't actually matter that much. I always fix on 55 personally. 50 is too cold for a unit like that... really no reason to keep it that cold and it will make the unit work harder.

    1. Robert Lauriston Jul 18, 2007 09:02 AM

      For the past five years or so I've set mine at 60 to save energy and wear on the refrigeration unit. Wines seem to age about the same as they did at 55.

      1. monkuboy Jul 18, 2007 09:47 AM

        Wasn't the "ideal" wine temperature based on the temperatures in the cellars of estates in France and England? I thought that the average temperatures of those places was something like 55 degrees. Most of the books and articles I've read have advocated a temperature of 55-57 degrees, and they also point out that a constant temperature is as, if not more important than the temperature itself.

        4 Replies
        1. re: monkuboy
          WineTravel Jul 18, 2007 11:04 AM

          Exactly. As I stated if the temperature is constant you will have no problem at 60 (as Robert L has his set) or even 65. Just keep in mind that the cellar at 65 will age faster than the cellar at 55. It doesn't make much difference if you are not doing long term aging (I have some wines that will age for 40 years with no problem). For long term aging a serious collector should have a temp closer to the 55 mark. Not that complicated really.

          1. re: WineTravel
            monkuboy Jul 18, 2007 11:50 AM

            When did wine refrigerators first start to be commonly used? I'm curious about people's experiences with wine they've stored in that manner for a long period of time, say 10-20 years versus other types of controlled storage. Me, I just have an 8-bottle Emerson cooler because I don't buy expensive and/or age-worthy wine, but every time I check it, the temp is at 57 degrees. I'm kind of surprised at how constant it stays considering how cheap it was and that the room it is in gets pretty warm.

            1. re: monkuboy
              Robert Lauriston Jul 18, 2007 12:26 PM

              Wineries, wholesalers, and dealers have been using refrigeration units to control cellar temperatures since at least as far back as the 1950s. The main drawback compared with a natural cellar is if the refrigeration unit breaks and you don't have a backup on hand, the wine may be damaged.

              1. re: monkuboy
                Bill Hunt Jul 18, 2007 08:46 PM

                I had a passive cellar in CO, back in '82, and some of those wines are now in my active cellar in AZ. So far, all are drinking beautifully. I work towards 55F, and, as many others have said, keep the fluctuations to a minimum. I have a recording min./max. thermometer for that purpose.


          2. Bill Hunt Jul 18, 2007 08:43 PM

            In very general terms, the ideal long term storage temp is 55F. Now, for very long term (think half-centuries), 45F is probably better, if you wish to sell the wine, rather than consume it.

            Most small units are really designed to keep the wine at a serving temp, rather than long term storage.

            My 3700+ btl. cellar runs at 55F, +/- 1F. That is for my drinking at some point in the future. I usually have a bunch of "drink now" wines in a second, or third unit, if I plan on consuming them now and want a bit more chill on the bottle.


            3 Replies
            1. re: Bill Hunt
              WineTravel Jul 19, 2007 07:01 AM

              Bill, that's a perfect set up. Very nice. Also, as you live in Phx... been waiting to see if you reply to the question I posed on the SW board re: Backstreet Wine Bistro. If you have time, check it out and reply there. Thx.

              1. re: WineTravel
                Bill Hunt Jul 19, 2007 06:32 PM

                Did not see it - sorry. As fate would have it, I'm dining there on Sat. night. Wife went to a business meeting there, and was so impressed, that she made reservations. I'll check for the other thread (do you recall the Title?), and give you my review.


                1. re: Bill Hunt
                  WineTravel Jul 19, 2007 06:52 PM

                  Bill.... Funny, seems as if Backstreet is off the radar. You are obviously a serious wine guy and haven't been there... and others in that Ive asked in Phoenix never heard of it. I was taken to this place a little over a month ago and thought it was a great spot. The owner is a cool guy who's really into food and wine... who I think is head of the Phoenix Wine Society (not sure of the actual name of the society). The title of the thread on SW board is PHX - Backstreet Wine Bistro? I think you'll like it... its a great concept.

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