Summer is just about here, and you’ve probably noticed a change in the way the strength of the sunlight. As the sun breaks through the clouds and the temperature rises, natural sunlight inches its way into the corners of your home that are normally dark and dreary all winter. This is great news for your home decor, but it’s not so great for your wine bottles. Exposure to direct sunlight spoils perfectly good wine within a matter of days, cooking it beyond recognition. Before the true summer heat sets in, you need to protect your bottles with the perfect wine cellar lighting set-up.
How Sunlight Damages Wines
In the dead heat of the summer, temperatures inside of the average home can climb well into the mid-70s or above, which is a nightmare for wine bottles. Wine that’s exposed to direct sunlight through windows or indirect sunlight in well-lit rooms is more likely to become “cooked” the longer it stays in these conditions, producing a sour and jammy taste. Not only does heat cook your wine, the wine’s cork might expand and contract as the heat fluctuates, which exposes the wine to oxidation. Heat also speeds up the aging process of a wine without developing the natural flavors of a well-aged bottle. If wine isn’t kept at a constant temperature of about 55 degrees, it can take as little as a few days to spoil. However, by far the most dangerous aspect of sun exposure is UV rays. These rays break down the tannins in the wine itself, leaving you with spoiled flavors.
Brief exposure to direct sunlight probably won’t damage your wine bottles short-term, as long as you limit the exposure to a few hours or less. A Chowhound forum member writes about how every year a wine auction places bottles directly in front of large windows during the bidding. However, the windows have UV-resistant glass, and the wine is only kept there for two hours. It’s always best to take as many precautions as possible, but the reality is that a few hours in the sun likely won’t harm your wine, especially if you have UV protection and keep the bottles from getting too hot. It’s long-term storage you have to worry about. When Chowhound member Bill Hunt weighs in, he explains that when his wines go to auction he worries more about storage of the wines before the sale. “The wines come from my cellar, and spending a few weeks in a hot office, prior to being transported in some way to the event site, worries me more,” he says.
How to Install Wine Cellar Lighting
Knowing that long-term sun and heat exposure quickly spoils wine, how do you prevent these problems? To start, only store your bottles in a space that doesn’t have any windows, like a basement or home wine cellar. Even if you think your bottles are safe sitting in a dark corner of a room, indirect sunlight can still reach them when there’s a window nearby. If you have no choice but to store your wines in a room with windows, at least install UV-protectant glass, and keep the room’s temperature at a constant 55 degrees.
Let’s say you have a wine cellar without windows. Are you already prepared for the summer? Not quite. You need to check that the lightbulbs you have installed in your cellar are the right ones for the job. Halogen and incandescent lights give off excessive heat that can be almost as bad as direct sunlight. You should install LEDs instead, which give off far less heat. As you install lighting in your cellar, use lighting that you can easily move and direct into different areas of the cellar. Aim your lights at the floor or the walls of the cellar, never pointing the lights directly at your wine bottles, and always shut the lights off behind you when you leave your cellar.
The Best Option for Your Wines
You can keep your wine safe with the right wine cellar lighting plan, but by far the best option for serious collectors who have highly-prized bottles is to choose a third party storage warehouse that already has the ideal lighting set-up. Great wine storage companies take care of every lighting detail for you, which means you’ll never have to worry about installing the right equipment again. Choose a company that offers a refund option for wines that arrive to you “cooked,” as this is a sign that they were not stored properly. The cost of installing your own lighting set-up at home may well be more than you would spend on third party storage, meaning you can spend the money you save on more wine instead.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.