How to store wine at high altitude.
Wine lovers live all over the world, from low-lying deserts to high up in the mountains, and everywhere in between. One of the challenges of living a mountain area or other high altitude area home is the question of storing wine.
Altitude can impact many things, from cooking times and recipes to how much oxygen you take in during rigorous exercise. Understanding this, many would assume that high altitude would impact wine storage. To a certain extent, it does.
Regardless of what your home or restaurant’s elevation is, one of the biggest keys to keeping your high altitude wine collection in good condition is to keep the temperature of the wine consistent.
If you live in a mountain area, there’s a fairly good chance that your temperatures fluctuate with the changing seasons; snow in the winter to hot sunlight in the summer. If that’s the case, you want to insure you have good climate control in your wine room or wine cellar.
This rule for consistency also goes for humidity, as many higher altitude areas tend to be a bit dryer, so it’s again key to insure you’re keeping an eye on the humidity in your wine cellar in addition to the actual temperature.
The ideal humidity level for a wine cellar is 50%-70% relative humidity at all times.
One interesting fact, according to Wine Spectator, is that wines “open up” more slowly at higher elevation, due to relatively less oxygen in the air.
This lesser atmospheric pressure allows wines to last a bit longer some speculate. For those living at higher elevations, that can definitely be a plus to consider!
Overall, in a well-built wine cellar, high altitude should have no discernable impact on the taste or quality of wine, as long as you follow the accepted standards for wine storage temperatures, and keep bottles out of direct sunlight.
Did you know that rules for “high altitude” apply to airplanes as well? Believe it or not, wines actually taste different in the air.
The combination of high altitude and low humidity can actually enhance a wine’s acidity. It can make tannins more pronounced. This actually has little to do with how wine bottles are stored on planes; more so it’s a matter of the air in the cabin of the plane.
If you’re considering building a wine cellar for your home, restaurant or country club, the best way to insure that the quality of your wine collections is retained, even at a higher elevation, is to insure you’re working with a professional custom wine room designer and installer.
Understanding the environment the wine cellar will be installed within, and taking all aspects of climate control, light, air flow, and other factors into consideration, is key to a truly custom and functional wine room.
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