Ideal temperature and humidity

If you could choose any temperature and humidity for age-worthy and valuable bottles what would you use?

Right now I’m going with 50-52F and 60-65% humidity.

I’ve read a few articles that have mentioned lower temperatures have resulted in better outcomes. My thought regarding humidity was that that was plenty to maintain corks without damaging labels.

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I think it depends on whether you want them mature in a normal window or to last for your unborn children’s grandchildren. I think very slow development will take place at 50F. I think 55F is a good sweet spot for long term storage

I’d love to see some actual scientific data and not just the usual anecdotal evidence…


It was interesting as there was an article I think in WS about that dentist in the Bay Area who had a 30k+ bottle cellar which he kept at 50. Quite a few people on here had good things to say about his bottles.

How would one test it? Cellar something at 50 and something else at 55 and report back in 30 years? That’s quite a bit of commitment.

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Sorry I guess it was 52F for reds and 48 for whites and the article was in Christie’s.

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Exactly my point

Most of my wine has been in professional storage over the last 20 years, at a fairly constant 55 degrees. That seems to have worked pretty well for anything I’ve opened that’s been old enough to show aging potential. If I was younger, I’d probably want my wines stored between 50 and 55. At my age, they should probably be closer to 60, lol.

Though there may not be a lot of long term “scientific” observation, there is certainly plenty of good anecdotal evidence for how well wines age at various temperatures (not to mention the well understood underlying reaction kinetics). Stories from places like Bern’s, where the temp is reputed to be 50 degrees, shows how slowly most wines develop at that temperature. My own experience, as well as stories from others, tells me that wines stored closer to, say, 70, probably age less “desirably” than at lower temp, though not catastrophically. So my conclusion is that anywhere from 50 to about 65 is satisfactory, with development obviously being faster at higher temperature.

I’ve always liked Greg Tatar’s contention that 55F only became the standard because that was standard cellar temperature in England. Seems plausible.

The answer to your question, I think, comes from tasting mature wines stored in different ways. No, it’s not a controlled experiment, but it does support the view that people fret waaaaay too much about temperature, at least for serious, structured reds.

At extremes, it makes a difference. I attended a blind, brown-bag tasting 20 years or so ago where where two people brought the same 10 or 15-year-old JJ Prum Auslese. They had split a case, so it was the same wine. One stored his in a closet in his NYC apartment, the other in proper storage. The latter was markedly fresher, but the closet wine was not cooked.

But, on the other side, in reds, circa 1994, someone served me a 1975 cru bourgeois (a Ch. Gloria, as I recall) that had been in the ground floor of his town house since release, without temperature control. It was very good for a 20-year-old wine of that category – no signs of degradation. And, over the years, I’ve picked up some auction wines that looked like they’d been abused (e.g., 83 and 84 Jaboulet Thalebert and regular Crozes-Hermitage) that drank beautifully at 20 years.

I keep my small under-the-counter wine cave at 60F. That was meant to be short and mid-term storage, and I figured why keep the compressor running. Well, some bottles have ended up in there for 10 years waiting for the right occasion, and I’ve never had a problem.

Even Champagne may be more rugged than supposed. I had a bottle of '90 Dom Perignon sat a storage facility for years where they lied about the AC, and it regularly got into the high 70s over the summers. The bottle languished there while I lived abroad, and then in the 60F kitchen unit, and I assumed it would be DOA. When I opened it three or four years ago, it was superb – no sign of mistreatment. And there were several Champagne lovers there who agreed. And it was mistreated!

My conclusion, based on anecdotal experience over nearly 40 years: The difference between 50F, 55F and 60F, or even 65F, would probably be very hard to discern blindly.

As for humidity, I’m skeptical that that makes a huge difference if the bottles are on their side. How many bottles have you ever encountered where the cork had shrunk at the top? That’s very rare. I think it would take many years of very low humidity, probably standing upright.


My tasting group, with a couple of guys who have been cellaring classified growth Bordeaux (among other things) since the 1960s offers a useful (if scientifically uncontrolled) data point. One of the members has a passive cellar that seasonally ranges from the low 50s to the high 60s. Another has had controlled, 55-60 degree storage the whole time. We continue to this day to enjoy delicious wines from the 1960s and 1970s out of both cellars that show zero notable differences. The two guys split cases of the same wines for 20 years, so there have been a lot of data points, from 1966 Haut Brion to 1971 Petrus, to 1975 Latour, to 1978 Pichon Lalande, etc.


There is a very serious wino who has been cellaring wines since the 60’s. When he got old enough, for various reasons (space and a desire to have some wine mature faster) he started keeping a good portion of his collection in a second “cellar” kept at “62F-66F”. The main cellar is at 55F, I believe. He’s been doing this for ~20 years now, so he has a nice control vs treatment time-series going.

I trust his palate and he says the only detectable difference between the two temperatures is the pace of maturation, which is very encouraging.

That all said, I wish I had a separate wine fridge or smaller room I could keep at 50F or lower for all of my old, fully mature bottles — wines which will not improve further and are probably clinging for dear life in some cases — to keep them in ‘statis’ or deep sleep. I am sure this could prolong their life spans by years or even decades if cold enough.

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Interesting, but I’d clearly need to taste these wines before commenting. Should I pencil in the next affair?

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20+ years storage here in the dry southwest without attempting to control humidity. It’s often about 30-40% but gets down to single digits RH in the early summer before monsoon rains start. I haven’t noticed any issues with corks or ullage. I’ve had some leaky vintage port corks but I don’t think thats unusual.

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57/70 and dark is what I aim for. Consistency is key

I guess I can just see how the bottles progress as I have some that are stored at 55 and others at 50-55.

I think Bern’s keeps their warehouse at 50 which is fine if you are storing really old wine. I have a friend who keeps his cellar at 50 and all his stuff always drinks young, many times too young. Since I would like to enjoy my wines while I am still alive, I have my cooler set to 56. When the bottle probe hits 57, the cooler kicks in. Besides my white burgs from '07/'10, I have not noticed any premature aging of my wines.

My CellarPro has an energy saver button that kicks up the the temp to 60 and it’s crazy how much less the unit runs in that mode, it’s very tempting to leave it on year round. What difference hold 5* make really?

It sounds silly but after ten years at 12°C (53.6°F) I changed to 13°C (55.4°F) - ten years later I have no regrets - the wines age just as beautifully but they don’t take quite so bloody long to do so!

What about ideal humidity? I am thinking I will shoot for about 60-70%.

Regarding the temperature; if I want the temperature to be higher than 50, I need to heat the cellar in the winter, and I don’t really think that’s necessary or cost effective.

I think 60-70% is fine and probably better than most cellars. Mine will get down to 50% in the wintertime if I don’t turn on the humidifier for a couple of hours a day, which will keep it at 55% minimum. If you are using forced air to heat, it will reduce the humidity so there is a tradeoff.