Wine Cellar Aroma

Dear Wine Ladies,

My husband is quite proud of his wine cellar, which currently holds about 200 bottles, half of its capacity. Lately he’s been complaining about the cellar smelling like mould.

We’re guessing that is not a desirable aroma to have emanating from one’s wine cellar and are wondering where do we go from here? How did the mould get there? Any suggestions?


Dear Dale,

Mould in a wine cellar can be a tricky thing. There are different strains of mould, some good and some not so good. Just as in blue cheese, the random veins of blue are penicillium, which is a desirable mould adding character and flavour to the cheese. In the case of wine cellars, the presence of mould could be an indicator that the level of humidity in the cellar is appropriate for wine storage. The proper humidity (approximately 60-70%) is important for preventing corks from drying out which in turn prevents oxidation that results in storage. Too high a humidity can result in mould forming on the labels and even the corks. When visiting the caves or cellars in some of the oldest wine growing regions of France and Germany, it’s really cool to see the mould growing in the various nooks and crannies while inhaling a definite waft of musk, of dampness like walking through a forest. A slight odour of mould is fine, slightly romantic actually! Keeping in mind that not all strains of mould are healthy for the cellar, determining the origin of the mould would be a good first step. Is it coming from one of the walls of the cellar? Could it possibly be a black mould which if the case, would have to be removed. The overall aroma should not be overwhelmingly unpleasant, or stinky. Investing in a hygrometer to measure the level of humidity might also be a good idea. Good luck with it and keep us posted!

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