Is Sunlight Bad For Wine?

  • 2021-12-12

The way you store your wine matters, and if you store your wine incorrectly, then it could age prematurely and develop bad flavours and aromas. You may already know that you should store your wine in cool conditions, but did you know sunlight can also have an effect on your wine?

If you want your wine to stay fresh for longer and age in the right way, then you need to take sunlight into account when storing your wine. But how does sunlight affect wine? And why is sunlight bad for wine? Keep reading to find out - and to learn how you can store your wine in the best way.


How Can Sunlight Affect Wine?

Sunlight is one of the most important things that you need to take into account when you’re storing your wine collection, regardless of whether you’re storing your wine for serving or ageing. Sunlight contains UV rays, which aren’t just harmful to your skin - they can ruin your wine in a matter of minutes. UV light can not only affect the taste of your wine but also affect the aromas and appearance of the wine - which is known in the wine world as light strike.

Light strike is when the ageing process speeds up when the body of the wine comes into contact with sunlight. This is because the UV rays cause unwanted chemical reactions within the wine that can leave it tasting sour and generally unpleasant.

The ultraviolet rays found in sunlight can have an effect on the naturally occurring riboflavin and pantothenic acid in the wine, causing chemical reactions with the wine’s amino acids. The outcome of this is the production of sulphur, which causes unpleasant tastes and aromas within the wine. These sulphur compounds can smell even at very low levels, and it a big ruiner of wine. When ageing wine, this is the last thing that you want to happen - as it can make a valuable wine worthless in less than a day.


How Can I Protect My Wine From Sunlight?

Now you know how sunlight can negatively affect your wine, it’s time to learn how you can protect your wine from sunlight - and there are more options than just storing your wine in the back of your kitchen cupboard or in your basement!


Dark Spaces

In order to protect your wine from UV light, it’s best to store your wine in dark spaces. Although not the best possible solution, you could store your wine in your kitchen cupboards to protect it from sunlight. However, wine is best stored at certain temperatures and humidity levels - and your cupboards may not accommodate this. However, if you purchase a thermometer, you could always check the interior temperature to check if your wine overheats or gets too cool.

You could also store your wine in a basement or wine cellar, as these are naturally dark spaces. You’ll find that most wine cellars are constructed with brick or stone, which helps to level the humidity levels. Wine cellars are ideal for storing larger collections and are perfect if you plan on ageing your wine.

Another thing to consider when storing your wine in a dark space is lighting. You might want to include lighting in your dark space so that you can see your collection when it’s time to pick out a bottle or you want to check on it. However, incandescent lighting can have a similar effect as UV light and can have negative effects on your wine. To avoid this, consider purchasing lightbulbs with UV-protective coating.


Wine Cooler

Wine coolers are a great way of storing your wine collection. Not only do they store your wine at the right temperature (usually between 11 and 14 degrees Celcius), but they also protect your wine from sunlight. However, when choosing a wine cooler with a glass door, ensure that it’s tinted or UV protected so that your wine collection doesn’t get affected by the UV rays.

Whether you choose a freestanding wine cooler, a built-in cooler, or a fully-integrated cooler, your wine is sure to be stored in the best conditions. Some wine coolers also feature dual-temperature zones or even three temperature zones, which gives you more control and flexibility when storing your wine at the right temperature. This means that you can store your reds, whites, and sparkling at separate temperatures, or you can store some bottles in the long term while others in the short term for serving.


Wine Bottles

Wine coolers, cellar, and dark spaces aside, you may not realise that some wine bottles offer UV protection for your wine. However, despite offering some protection, it’s still recommended to store your wine in dark spaces in the long term, or if you plan on ageing your wine. Most red wine is stored in a dark green bottle - this is because red wine is usually more full-bodied and features complex flavours and aromas within the body of the wine. Green bottles were historically the easiest to produce in large quantities, but in today’s world, clear glass has become a common option.

However, many white wines and sparkling wines are stored in clear glass bottles, which don’t offer much protection at all - so take extra steps to protect your whites and sparkling wines from those harmful UV rays. Clear wine glasses offer pretty much no protection, so if possible, store your wine in darker or tinted bottles if you don’t have a dark space to store your collection.

Wine in clear glass bottles can be affected by sunlight in just a couple of hours, but wine stored in green-tinted bottles can last around 18 hours before the sunlight starts to chemically change the wine. You may not have seen wine stored in amber glass bottles before - but this may be the best kind of bottle to store your wine in, offering almost total protection from UV rays. However, winemakers don’t usually store wine in amber-tinted bottles.