Is my home wine cellar supposed to smell like wine?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I’ve started collecting wine on wooden racks in my hall closet. I have about 75 bottles in there, and now the closet has a wine smell. I’ve checked all the bottles and didn’t find any with leaks. Is this normal? I’m also concerned because I have some jackets in that closet as well. I love the smell of wine, but not on my clothes.

—N., San Diego, Calif.

Dear N.,

Congrats on starting your wine collection! Check out our guide to storing wine for more in-depth information about keeping your prized bottles in peak condition.

Regarding the wine smell in your closet, I can think of two scenarios. It’s possible that some of the labels and corks smell like wine simply because they were stored in wineries and absorbed the smell there. But more likely is that there is indeed a leaking bottle—perhaps the leak is hiding under the wine’s capsule that covers the top of the bottle, or there could be a small puncture in a screwcap.

I’d open the closet door and run a fan for a while to air it out, and charcoal and baking soda are both good options for absorbing the offending odor, although I would not introduce any new odor sources in an effort to cover up the wine smell. As for finding the culprit, you could try smelling each bottle, but you may want to remove the tops of the capsules and examine the corks for seepage or signs that the corks have been pushed out.

—Dr. Vinny

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