Understanding the role humidity plays in the aging process and long-term storage of wine is critical. As important as it is to keep too much humidity out of a wine cellar, too little can be equally damaging. Knowledge, thoughtful construction, and the just-right cooling and humidifying technology are the perfect combination to bring your wine display vision to fruition in an especially dry climate.
Wine ages best and keeps well at 50 to 70% relative humidity, with 60% being the sweet spot. Humidity levels over 70% will cause glue to break down and may cause mold growth. Levels below 50% can result in cracked corks, which leads to evaporation and degraded wine. Wine cellars, rooms and walls situated in dry locations need a little extra attention before planning out the design and construction of the space.
Cellar construction for dry climates
The first step toward climate control is constructing an air-tight environment. A vapor barrier—a plastic enclosure installed on the outside walls, above the ceiling, and beneath floors with accessible space—is highly effective in maintaining humidity inside the wine room or cellar. Concrete floor should be sealed. Double-paned glass, exterior-grade doors, and tightly sealed thresholds also ensure a closed wine-cellar environment.
In dry climates, proper wine cellar humidity is essential
In dry climates, it is essential for these systems to add moisture back into the air, which does not occur in standard HVAC units. Wine cellar climates are so sensitive that even opening the door of the wine display will reduce the humidity level in a dry location. The right cooling unit matters and must integrate humidity in some way.
In the case of dry climates, the best wine cellar cooling unit will have built-in humidity controls or the ability to control a standalone humidifier. Integrated wine room humidifiers add moisture to the conditioning unit air instead of directly into the wine cellar, so it distributes moisture evenly within the re-circulating air. Wine Guardian humidifiers mount directly to our self-contained ducted cooling systems or ducted split cooling units, and maintain up to a maximum of 60% relative humidity.
Wine Guardian’s freestanding humidifier is a terrific option to achieve relative humidity above 60% and can add moisture to any size residential or commercial wine room. These units reside inside the wine storage space and will add moist air directly into it. The standalone units are controlled by a high-quality, wall-mounted humidistat. The wine cellar humidifier should have sufficient capacity for the environment in which it is adding moisture. The freestanding version can be used with Wine Guardian systems or with any competitors’ wine cellar air conditioning unit.
Once you understand the role humidity plays in the long-term storage and aging of wine, you will be better equipped to select climate control cooling technology that is designed to perform optimally in any environment.