quality posts: 252
How cold is "too cold"? Ideally, wine should be stored at 55F. Slight swings up or down is, in all likelihood, harmless. I would think that 10+ degree is slight, but that number may be high.
Also consider, wines you plan on drinking within 2 years probably won't degrade within that period at ambient temperature. It doesn't harm them to store them temp controlled, but it's likely not necessary.
"If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine." -Rainer Maria Rilke
"Champagne is a very kind and friendly thing on a rainy night." -Isak Dinesen
quality posts: 26
kaolis wrote:I'm in Chicago area as well and other than a small fridge which holds about 10 cases, my "cellar room" is passive as well. One interior wall and three walls are cement exterior walls. I run between 50 and 66 degrees. I have stored wines in this room for over 25 years and they are still sound. With that opening to the outside I'd almost be more worried about heat in the summer. I also store my long term wines in styro shippers, my unscientific research seems to support better temperature control and slower wings. Humidity will eat at your labels as mentioned above. The only time I ever had troubles with humidity and labels were with a couple of cases of wine that were stored in cardboard only boxes. Don't know why. But never have had a label problem with anything in a rack or in the styro. Again, not science, just my experience.
kaolis is right, the summer temps here in Chicagoland could kill your wine. I keep mine in a finished basement and shut the heat vent in the winter while cracking a window. I've been able to keep it consistently around 60 degrees year round.
Get a thermometer and a as MarkDaSpark suggested, a humidity gauge. Start checking now since we are having such fluctuating temps to see stable it is in the space. Don't forget our humidity is around 70+ percent in the winter so take that into account.
"Wine is sunshine held together by water" - Galileo Galilei