Does it matter what type of wood is used for wine racks in a wine cellar?

We believe that the choice of woods used in wine racks is very important, for two reasons:

1. Decay resistance – “Woods vary considerably in decay resistance and durability. Woods like cherry and redwood are “resistant or very resistant” to decay.

2. Tendency to warp – woods like cherry and redwood are among those with the lowest tendency to warp.

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When we think of “decay,” we think of fungi – or mold – and how to deter the growth of fungi in our wine cabinets and wine racks. There are four basic requirements for wood-inhabiting fungi to thrive. Rendering any one of these unsuitable can control fungi:

1. Temperature – Between 75 and 90 degrees Farenheit is optimum for the growth of fungi. Beyond the extremes of 40 and 105 degrees Farenheit, growth essentially stops.

2. Oxygen – Fungi needs oxygen to grow

3. Moisture – Fungi can develop in wood with average moisture content as low as 20%.

4. Food – Woods vary considerably in decay resistance or durability. Where it is impossible or impractical to keep wood below 20% moisture content, the next best approach is to choose a durable wood or wood that has been impregnated with a chemical preservative.

The first three requirements all exist inside a wine cabinet, so the only way to control against fungi is #4. Therefore, the choice of wood used to build wine racks is very important, and it should be a wood that is resistant to decay, such as redwood, black walnut or cherry.

For more information, check out the book by R. Bruce Hoadley called “Understanding Wood, A Craftsman’s Guide to Wood Technology” or see our wine cellar frequently asked questions article.

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