Bad Odours and Wine Storage

It may come as a surprise to learn that the odours inside your wine fridge and around your home can actually have a significant impact on the taste of the wine you are storing especially over the longer term. There is no doubt that many wine enthusiasts have noticed that what they choose to store in and around their wine fridge can seep into their wine, causing it to lose taste and character. This is due to the quality and material of cork and its potential to pick up scents, which then transfer into the wine itself.

Now you may be wondering, “what aromas should I avoid storing around my wine?” and “how do I get rid of any existing odours in my wine fridge?” The first thing we should discuss is what can cause odours in your wine storage facility.

Food Aromas and Wine Storage

There are many reasons why it is important to store your wine in a separate area from your food fridge, one of which is the potent smells that are produced by some cooked foods. The smell may be subtle, but if you store your wine in a refrigerator with last night's leftovers consistently, you run the risk of those odours attaching themselves to the cork of your wine and changing the taste of your wine.

Side Note: you should avoid storing your wine with potatoes. Although the scent of potatoes will not affect your wine's flavour profile, the spores will. If potatoes are left in your refrigerator for more than two weeks, they will produce airborne fungal spores, which are perfect for settling and surviving on a cork. There is a very good chance that once these spores are on the cork, they will also make their way into your bottle of wine. It is possible that your favourite wines can undergo a drastic change in flavour and aroma due to potato spores!

Spice Odours and Wine Storage

As with food, many spices carry strong fragrances that are powerful enough to change the flavor of your wine. The spice odour and the tannins of the wine do not mix well and can create an imbalance. In the case of storing the bottle next to highly aromatic spices, you can end up with a wine that tastes much more peppery than the original tannins may have imparted.

Another example is storing herbs such as thyme next to a bottle of wine. Herbaceous fragrances are one of the hallmarks of thyme, which has a potent and intense scent. When stored in the same refrigerator as your wine, the odour of thyme or other similar herbs can infiltrate your wine over time and cause it to have changes in taste.  

New Fridge Smell

Investing in a wine fridge is one of the most effective ways to maintain the quality of your wine supply by preventing unwanted odours from contaminating it. It is thus possible to store your wine in its refrigerator without having to worry about the smell of unusual scents invading the flavor profiles of your wine. Nevertheless, it is also important to be mindful of the "new appliance smell" because it can also create unpleasant flavors in your most loved bottles.

To eliminate the smell, the most effective thing to do is open it up and give it some fresh air for a short time before storing your bottles or pick a wine fridge with a carbon filter. To note, this would only be an issue if you were storing wine over the longer term, and most wine fridges for long term storage already come with carbon filters, if your wine fridge is for service, it's unlikely bad odours would have enough time to permeate the cork.

Utilising Charcoal Filters to Trap Odours

Charcoal filters can be highly effective at removing unwanted odours and reducing their effects on your wine supply. So, what about charcoal makes it so good at eliminating odours? Well, there is a process called adsorption within charcoal that effectively removes unwanted odors. In the adsorption process, positively charged activated charcoal attracts negatively charged contaminant ions. This causes the compounds to be easily removed when they adhere to the surface of activated charcoal. It is pertinent to note that this process, in which molecules attach to charcoal, differs from absorption, which occurs when a solid soaks up a liquid.

Wine Fridges with Built in Charcoal Filters

All the freestanding wine fridges from Swisscave and Artevino come with carbon filters, however there are a few wine cabinets worth calling out that we really recommend for long term storage.

Swisscave WL455DF - 154 Bottle Wine Fridge: This stylish dual zone wine fridge from Swisscave is our top recommendation for storing wine over the longer term as well as having a section for service if that is required. With a winter system, carbon filter and LED lighting, this attractive wine cabinet will keep your wines safe from bad odours, UV light and all the gremlins in the natural world that like to prematurely age or spoil wine.

Avintage - 178 Bottle Three Zone Freestanding Wine Cabinet: Wine enthusiasts looking for reliable, flexible, and stylish storage solutions for their fine wine collection will find this high-capacity wine cabinet from a leading brand like Avintage to be an ideal option. The wine cabinet is suitable for the oenophile with a diverse collection of various wines at his/her disposal. Whether you are a wine enthusiast who enjoys Bordeaux, Mosel Riesling, Port, White Burgundy, or Australian Shiraz, no matter what your taste in wine is, this versatile cabinet is sure to meet your needs.

Climadiff RESERVE 275: Your wine will stay undisturbed in total darkness and away from harmful UV light as it is shielded by a solid door and an exterior composed of anthracite coal gray sheet metal. The Reserve 275 has four fixed wooden shelves, a charcoal filter that prevents offensive odours, and automatic humidity control. To help your wine develop to its optimum flavour profile over decades, the cooler uses technology designed to mimic the conditions inside a traditional Chateau cellar.

The Bottom Line

In regard to wine and odours, it is something you should take seriously if you are an avid wine collector with an expensive collection. There is a chance that strong scents can get into your wine through the permeable cork due to its permeable nature. Consequently, this interferes with the wine's natural aroma, which, in turn, can alter its flavour profile and lead to a loss of its original aroma.

If you really want to ensure that the flavor of your wine stays at its optimal level, we advise investing in a wine fridge equipped with a charcoal filter. A good filter can make all the difference in preventing bad odours from seeping into your wine and affecting its taste.

If you plan to store your wines and wine cooler in a fairly innocuous, inert place, away from the odours of booking or motors like a bedroom for example, the need for a carbon filter is reduced.

Carbon filters need replacing every 6-12 months and are available from the brand directly or via Coolersomm.

Sarah newton

Author - Sarah Newton

Sarah Newton has worked in the wine industry for two decades holding senior positions at some of the UK wine industry's leading brands. The MD of Coolersomm, Sarah is WSET certified and our lead wine buyer too.