Wine rack lighting Wine-making is an ancient tradition and a careful science, all of the naturally occurring chemicals and fermentations that go into the vinification process are measured to achieve the desired wine. But the attention to detail doesn’t stop once the bottle is shipped; many factors can be key in order to properly preserve wine, such as temperature, bottle position in storage, humidity, vibration, and lighting. Lighting suited for wine bottles in display presents a unique problem, how to provide an adequate amount of light to see the bottles while having just enough as not to disturb the chemicals in the wine. A lot of factors play a role in how light affects wine; anything from the type and strength of the light to the type of wine and wine bottle can make a difference before the cork gets popped. Lighting from direct light from the sun, fluorescent and UV lights are the ones to watch out for since these types of lights can rearrange or disturb the chemicals in the wine and turn it into a “light-struck” wine. These wines are known for that name as the light has impacted the bottle and prematurely aged the wine, changing most aspects of it, including aroma, taste, colour, and even the mouthfeel. What happens is that the UV rays present in the light have an effect on the sulphurous compounds present in the wine, making them taste more acidic and closer to vinegar than actual wine. Some sommeliers have also described light-struck wines as having “rotten-egg” and “cooked-cabbage” flavour profiles. Studies found that with two 40W halogen bulbs, the estimated time before a wine gets light-struck is around 200 hours for green-coloured red wine bottles. Safe Lighting for Wine Bottles To avoid light-struck wine, the best lighting option is using LED lights as they emit little-to-none UV rays. They also don’t heat as much as other lighting options. Moreover, they’re cost-effective and can be dimmable to avoid too much lighting. There are a lot of options when it comes to wine rack storage solutions, but when it comes to lighting, there are only two major options to choose from: environmental lighting and LED-integrated lighting. 1. Environmental Lighting: Environmental lighting refers to the lighting that’s present in the space that the wine racks are in. This can range from refrigerated storage to collectors’ cellars to free-standing racks in restaurants. The lighting can range from downlights to small spotlights and would light up the environment directly and the wine bottles indirectly. The advantage of this lighting style is that the light is further away, and the light is more diffused. Combining that with low-wattage LED lights, the chance of having a light-struck wine is null. 2. LED-integrated Lighting: LED-integrated wine racks are a relatively new development in wine rack lighting. With LED-integrated wine racks, the LED lights are built into the rails and arms of the rack system and can light up individual bottles or a small cluster of them. The advantage of this lighting style is that it’s more aesthetically pleasing when storing and displaying bottles by having the focus on the labels and bottles. This type of lighting is great for collectors who want to draw attention to the wines they own, for restaurants and bars to display their preferred bottles, and even for lounges to set the ambiance while still focusing on the wine bottles. The best kind of wine display lighting differs by project, but a combination of environmental and bottle-focused lighting is usually the best solution. Commercial and hospitality projects will often combine these two types, as the wine racks are most commonly situated in places that have a lot of foot traffic. In this example, there’s environmental lighting on the wine shelves alongside the L182 LED-integrated wine rack system from MP Lighting What to watch out for when choosing the type of lighting for wine The reason LED lighting is taking over the wine market is that it checks off the boxes when it comes to lighting wine. The main things to watch out for are: 1. Heat Too much heat can create a similar effect on the chemical compounds of wine as too much UV light – overly heated wine can also be called “heat-struck” because of the similarity of a light-struck wine. Sticking with low-heat lighting options, such as LED lights, will prevent this. 2. UV rays As mentioned before, UV rays from natural and artificial sources of light have a negative effect on wine, so when choosing lighting for a cellar, refrigerated storage, or a display wine rack, it’s highly recommended to select a lighting source that doesn’t emit UV rays. 3. Dimming Although not a necessity, dimming is a great way to further control how much light wine bottles get when being stored and displayed. LED lighting won’t harm the wine, but the control dimming provides peace of mind and satisfies aesthetic purposes. Wine can be a precious product. Whether it’s for collectors, casual appreciators, or sommeliers, wine should be cared for as they are an investment. Lighting plays a significant part in a wine’s quality, so overlooking this can be imprudent.