Can light affect wine?
The short answer is yes, light can affect wine absolutely, and it will! So let’s discuss briefly why light can harm your wine, what types of light can change your beautiful wine into something a bit (or very!) unsavory, how the bottle’s color can influence the changes, and what you can do about it in your own cellar.
How light can impact a wine’s taste.
Using colored bottles has been a practice in winemaking since the 1700s. Winemakers of that time understood that by using amber or dark green bottles it would minimize the exposure light had on the precious liquid living inside.
You may have heard of the term light struck, where UV light or even incandescent light can disrupt the phenolic compounds which can cause the wine to fall apart. This means the wine can have its aroma, taste, and smell altered, and not in a good way. Your wine will lose its fruitiness and have a wet cardboard taste and smell.
Light can also lead to oxidation, turning the wine into a flat burnt smelling glass of disappointment. You can also tell a wine has been oxidized if it has a sherry like quality to it.
Sherry, which is in a class of its own for its unique production process and qualities, undergoes oxidative aging which gives it that nutty aroma. The nutty aroma in Sherry is lovely and inviting, but not in your bottle of Burgundy.
You can also see oxidation in the color of the wine. White wines can turn a brownish color while red wines lose their vibrant red to an orange or a brownish color with hints of orange. Best to stay clear of those when you’re on the hunt in the wine aisles or be prepared when you find this in your own cellar.
Choosing wine cellar lighting.
When creating the lighting and ambience in your cellar, it’s important to think of a couple of aspects. Obviously you don’t want to put in bright lights that might be too much for your wine, eventually oxidizing them. But also these kinds of lights tend to give off some heat.
This heat will bring the temperature up in your cellar therefore aging your wine faster than its supposed to.
How to age your wines beautifully.
We have discussed that UV light is harmful, as is sunlight, so what is the best option for lighting in your cellar to keep your wines aging beautifully?
The best option are lights that give off little heat, so LED lights are a great choice. Using LED lights opens up possibilities like backlighting your bottles if you want to show them off a bit or make it easier to find them. LED can be closer to the bottles without hurting the wine inside. Talk with the wine cellar professionals to make sure your wine cellar not only looks fantastic, but is functional and safe for your liquid gems.
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