Maybe you’re new to New Orleans, Louisiana, and want to build the wine cellar you’ve always dreamed about. Or perhaps you’re a longtime wine connoisseur looking to improve the quality of your collection. The key to any high-quality wine cellar is the climate, which primarily involves temperature, humidity, and the physical condition of the area. Establish a regulated climate in your wine cellar and you’ll preserve and improve the quality of your wine. Here is what you need to build the right environment for your wine cellar.

Controlled Temperatures

A walk down to your cellar should be refreshing and crisp. The best temperature for red wines is a steady 55 degrees Fahrenheit, while white wines do best at 45 degrees. Some wine enthusiasts keep all their wines together and cool them to the same temperature, but while that ten-degree disparity may not seem like much, it can mean the difference between a decent wine and a spectacular one. 

These temperatures don’t only keep wine cool and ready to drink, they also slow down the aging process to a rate where necessary chemical reactions occur at a more moderate pace, which builds the complexity of color, aroma, and flavor that you want in your wine.

But how can you keep a single wine cellar at two different temperatures? If you collect both red and white wines and you want to bring the most out of both, you’ll need to separate the two types. Talk to your local HVAC technician about zoning the two areas of your cellar, which allows you to keep them at two different temperatures, even if they’re separated by only a single wall.

Relative Humidity Levels

Temperature isn’t the only important factor in maintaining high-quality wine. Humidity can either help preserve your wine or lead to its demise. If you’re not watching the relative humidity levels in your cellar, the temperature can fluctuate, despite the thermostat setting, since different humidity levels retain different amounts of heat.

The relative humidity levels in your cellar should sit between 50 and 70 percent so the corks don’t dry out. Healthy corks keep air out, which is crucial because once air enters the bottle, an oxidation process begins that spoils the wine. However, corks must also allow just enough oxygen in to guarantee that the wine ages as it should, but not so much that it becomes tainted.

Don’t think you can play it safe by keeping the humidity higher than 70 percent relative because too much humidity stimulates mold growth on the cork, labels, and the walls of your cellar. After those spores start spreading, they quickly become unmanageable. Remember that you’re not only working to preserve your wine, but also the packaging and your cellar. Even if you use plastic, metal, glass, or other closures that aren’t as affected by humidity, a regulated level still better preserves your packaging and your cellar.

Installing a humidifier in your wine cellar is the most reliable way to regulate humidity. Some wine connoisseurs believe that the natural humidity of an area is enough to keep a wine cellar adequately moist, especially since cooling systems sometimes naturally dry out air. While we here in Louisiana are no strangers to humidity, you don’t want to leave the fate of your wine to the fluctuations of local weather. A humidifier regulates relative humidity levels and maintains a rigid setting.  

Sealed Cellar

Regulated temperature and humidity go out the window if your cellar is constantly leaking or allowing outside air to interfere with your climate. Without proper insulation and a sealed room, your wine could quickly spoil. Call on HVAC technicians to check the quality of your cellar’s seal, and invest in the proper measures to ensure sufficient insulation and a tight seal. When all is said and done, you want a cellar sealed as tight as your wine.

With some investment and a little research, you can create an atmosphere in your cellar that is worthy of your wine. To start creating the perfect climate, call Bryan’s United Air Conditioning at 504-208-2071.

Image via Flickr by lpwines