Why Are the Roofs and Walls of Wine Cellars Black?

Like any food product, wine has certain storage conditions under which it is best kept. Some of these storage conditions are a no brainer. It is easy to see why bottles of wine are stored on their side, for instance. If the cork in the wine bottle is allowed to dry out, it will shrink and allow oxygen into the bottle, spoiling a potentially valuable bottle of wine. Still other questions about wine storage are not so easily understood.

Are Black Walls Still Necessary For Wine Cellars?

The truth is, with today’s technology, it may not be totally necessary to paint the walls and roof of your wine cellar black.

Storing Wine Without Light


The idea behind the black paint in wine cellars is that it will help to keep light off the wine you’re storing. Black paint also absorbs heat better than lighter colors. So between black paint’s light and heat absorption, it is an ideal color for most wine cellars.

Wine can spoil when exposed to heat and light, just as a dry cork or too much or too little humidity can damage or change the flavor of the wine. For starters, changes in temperature can cause the volume of the wine in the bottle to change. Too hot, and the volume expands, potentially tainting the cork or causing the line to weak past a less elastic cork. Too cold, and the volume condenses. A constant fluctuation in the volume of a wine is not good for the consistency or flavor of the beverage.

Wine Aging and Storage Temperature

Also, fluctuations in temperature cause chemical reactions within the wine to change their rate. This means that a wine may age too fast or too slow depending on the temperature. Also, chemical reaction changes occur exponentially — in other words, doubling the storage temperature of a wine doesn’t simply ‘double’ the rate of the chemical reactions. Most studies show that every 10 degree change in a wine’s temperature causes a doubling in the rate of chemical reactions and possibly its aging. Temperature changes can seriously impact a wine’s shelf life or even spoil it altogether.

Controlling Wine Cellar Temperature With Black Paint

The best way to control temperature in days past was to coat the inside of a wine cellar in black paint. These days, most wine cellars have cooling systems and humidity control machines or ozone machines that do the work of the old “black paint” trick, and then some. You’ll find wine cellars today of all colors — even white, the least temperature absorbent and most light reflecting color of them all.

Still, it may be a good idea to paint your wine cellar black — for one, it will look really cool, and will be a kind of throwback to wine cellars of the past. For another, every bit on control you can have over the wine’s storage conditions will help store and age your wine.

Though modern technology has pretty much done away with the practical need for black walls in wine cellars, it is still traditional for many people to paint their walls just such a color. What is important to remember is you must have control over temperature, humidity, light, and even vibration in your wine cellar. Control these elements, and your wine collection will bring you joy for many years.

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