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How Does Light Affect Wine Storage?

White wine in the sun

If you have a collection of wine that needs to be stored safely, there are a few factors that need to be taken into consideration. For this next instalment of our wine storage series, we will take a look at how light impacts wine and how to ensure your wine is adequately protected from it. 

Why is light bad for wine?

Both sunlight and incandescent lighting can play a part in damaging the quality of your wine. The main way in which light impacts wine is in the way it adversely reacts with the phenolic content, which are the chemicals which influence what the wine tastes like, what colour it is and the general mouthfeel it gives off. When this happens, the wine can develop faults, making it spoil and taste unpleasant. 

The lighter the wine, in both body and colour, the greater the risk they hold to become damaged by light exposure. Therefore, many lighter white wines are bottled up in a tinted bottle to provide some protection, reducing the amount of light reaching the wine. This means that any white, or lighter wine, that is bottled in a clear, or pale green bottle has a vulnerability and so, more care may be needed when storing them. 

How can you tell if a bottle of wine has been affected by light?

One easy way to determine whether or not a bottle of wine has been affected by light is to take a look at the label. If it has been in direct light for a long period of time, then the label is likely to have become faded or have a yellow tinge. So if you see a label like this in a shop a restaurant, then it is a good idea not to buy the bottle!

Another indicator that light has damaged a bottle of wine is that the wine within it is noticeably lighter. If a bottle is left in a light environment, over months and years, the liquid will become clearer and more transparent, eventually altering the colour. 

Ways to protect bottles from the light

Many bottles come with their own form of protection, with stained green or brown glass used to make the bottles, keeping out some rays of light. This can’t completely protect against light exposure though, so this is why cellars have traditionally been used to store wine, as they are unlikely to have any natural light.

Wineries and restaurants have employed many different methods over the years to protect their bottles against light damage. Champagne producer Louis Roederer, for example, wrap their clear bottles of premium Cristal in cellophane packaging to protect them while in storage. Many other wineries store their clearer bottles in thick cardboard boxes or wooden crates to keep them away from any direct light.

If you’re looking for a wine storage solution for your home or restaurant that ensures your bottles are protected from light, then many refrigerated wine cabinets have solid doors or glass that contains a UV filter, providing further protection from light damage.


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