by Maria Jose Meneses, originally published on Porch.com
Wine collecting has been a popular pastime for centuries, but it has become increasingly popular over the years. One of the reasons is the rise of wine appreciation and culture, which has made wine more accessible to the general public. As people become more knowledgeable about wine, they also become more interested in collecting it.
Another reason for the growing popularity of wine collecting is the investment potential of specific wines. Some rare and highly sought-after wines have been appreciated over the years, making them a desirable asset for collectors and investors.
In addition, the rise of e-commerce and online marketplaces has made it easier for wine collectors to buy and sell rare and unique wines worldwide. This has opened up new opportunities for collectors to acquire and showcase their prized bottles.
Overall, the increased interest in wine collecting reflects a growing appreciation for the art and science of winemaking and the unique experiences and enjoyment that wine can offer.
If you’re just starting out in wine collecting, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. However, there are many resources available to help you get started. Keep reading to learn some of the best tips from Wine experts to know where to start.
How can you protect your wine from home?
Wine storage has evolved tremendously over the past 7000 years. In the day, the ancient Hittite civilization of Anatolia made wine for religious purposes and stored it in clay pots. The Mesopotamians invented glass wine bottle storage something like 1500 BC.
Today, we’re trying to determine the best wood, lighting, and temperature to store our most prized collection.
Where Should You Store Your Wine?
Will your wine cellar be underground (your basement) or displayed on the main level?
If on the main level, you’ll need temperature control. The temperature can be passively controlled in your basement because there are no temperature swings. Another thing you’ll want to consider is the vibration around your collection. You don’t want them to rattle when you walk by or when the door opens.
What Temperature Or Humidity Level Should I Have?
Your wine storage should be insulated, and you’ll want to control the humidity based on your collection.
What Type Of Lighting Should I Have?
Light can interrupt a wine’s chemical compounds and cause wine faults known as light-struck. Direct sunlight, electric fluorescent, and UV lighting in your wine cellar can cause wine faults. Dimmable LED lighting is the best lighting for a wine cellar. Non-LED lights give off heat that can change your cellar’s temperature too much.
How Should Wine Bottle Be Stored Properly
You’ll want to think about shelving and the placement of your bottles. It’s important to store the bottles horizontally so the corks do not dry out.
What Flooring Should You Choose?
Not carpet. A carpet could hold too much moisture and cause the wines to mildew.
What Type Of Security Is Appropriate?
Are there children in the house? If so, locking storage is very important. You also may not want house guests choosing a special bottle you saved for an occasion. And the most obvious reason is that you want to protect your collection from a break-in. Another recommended option is to use a monitored security system, including cameras, to protect your collection.
Should I Insure My Collection?
The answer is maybe. The building materials should be covered under your home insurance policy unless the materials are custom. Then you’ll want to include that. You may want to consider a particular policy for your collection if you have any rare wines.
-Anne at Armchair Sommelier
How is wine aging affected by the presence of a wine cellar?
Wine’s ability to age is greatly affected by the way it’s stored. A wine cellar provides optimal storage conditions for wine, including temperature, humidity, and darkness, all crucial factors contributing to the aging process.
Temperature is perhaps the most important factor in wine aging, as it affects the rate at which the wine ages. A wine cellar helps maintain a consistent temperature, ideally between 55-65°F (12-18°C), which allows the wine to age slowly and develop complex flavors and aromas. If the temperature fluctuates too much, the wine can become off or age too quickly, leading to undesirable flavors and aromas.
Humidity is also essential for wine aging, as it helps prevent the cork from drying out and allows air to enter the bottle. A wine cellar with proper humidity levels, ideally around 70%, can help ensure that the cork remains moist, which in turn helps preserve the wine’s freshness and prevent oxidation.
In addition to temperature and humidity, darkness is vital for wine aging. Exposure to light, particularly UV light, can cause chemical reactions in the wine, negatively affecting its flavor and aroma. A wine cellar provides a dark environment that protects the wine from light exposure, helping to ensure that it ages properly.
While acknowledging that perfect storage is ideal, it’s also important to note that only some have the space or money to implement a wine cellar in their home or apartment. In my own space, I opted to convert my Ikea bookshelves into chic wine racks and then added a wine fridge for the bottles I plan on aging for longer.
Overall, a wine cellar is essential for proper wine aging. It provides the ideal storage conditions, including temperature, humidity, and darkness, that allow the wine to age slowly and develop complex flavors and aromas, leading to an ideal drinking experience.
-Paige Comrie at Wine with Paige
How does the design of a wine cellar impact the preservation of wine?
Designing and building a wine cellar is a great way for homeowners to protect and preserve their wine collection. Here are some tips on how to create the best possible wine cellar:
Choose the right location: The location of your wine cellar is important, as it will affect the temperature and humidity levels. Ideally, a wine cellar should be located in a cool, dark, and dry space, away from any sources of heat or light. Basements are often a good location for a wine cellar, as they tend to be naturally cooler than other parts of the house.
Install a cooling system: A wine cellar must be kept at a consistent temperature, typically between 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit, with a humidity level around 70 percent. To achieve this, you’ll need to install a cooling system. There are a variety of cooling systems available, including self-contained units, split systems, and ducted systems. A professional can help you determine the best cooling system for your specific needs.
Choose the right racking system: Wine racks are an important part of a wine cellar, as they provide a way to store and organize your wine collection. There are many different types of wine racks available, including wood, metal, and acrylic. It’s important to choose a rack that is sturdy and able to support the weight of your wine bottles. You may also want to consider a modular system that can be easily expanded as your collection grows.
Protect against vibration: Vibrations can disrupt the aging process of wine, so it’s important to minimize any vibrations in your wine cellar. Avoid installing your wine cellar near any sources of vibration, such as a washing machine or dryer. You may also want to consider adding vibration-dampening materials to your cellar.
Consider security: If you have a valuable wine collection, it’s important to take steps to protect it from theft. This may include installing a lock on your wine cellar door or investing in a security system that monitors the cellar.
By following these tips, homeowners can design and build a wine cellar that will protect and preserve their wine collection for years to come.
-David Parker at Benchmark Wine Group
What are some best practices for protecting a wine cellar?
Protecting a wine cellar is essential to ensure your wine investment is kept safe and preserved for years. After all, not only have you made a substantial investment, but you’ll want to ensure that your wines are kept in the ideal environment so that when you have a unique (or not-so-special) occasion and pop that cork, you’ll pour a beautifully aged wine. Nothing is more disappointing than the expectation of drinking a fine wine you’ve cellared, only to discover it is off. This “wine fault” or “defect” is an unpleasant characteristic of a wine that can result from poor storage conditions.
Here are some best practices to consider:
- Control temperature and humidity: Maintaining a constant temperature between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level between 50 and 70 percent is ideal for wine storage. Use a temperature and humidity control system to monitor and adjust the environment inside the cellar.
- Use appropriate lighting: Light can damage wine by causing premature aging or oxidization. Use low-level or UV-filtered lighting inside the cellar to prevent this.
- Install a security system: Protect your wine cellar with an alarm system, security cameras, and secure locks. Make sure that only authorized individuals have access to the cellar.
- Choose appropriate shelving and racks: Use sturdy and well-constructed shelves and racks to store your wine bottles. Avoid using wire racks, as they can scratch or damage wine labels.
- Organize your collection: Organize your wine collection by type, region, or vintage to make it easier to find and manage your inventory. Use a wine management system to track your wines and their location within the cellar.
- Regularly inspect and maintain: Inspect your cellar regularly for signs of damage, leaks, or pests. Maintain proper cleaning practices to prevent the buildup of mold or other harmful contaminants.
By following these best practices, you can ensure that your wine cellar is appropriately protected and maintained, preserving the quality of your wine collection for years to come.
-Lauren Lekai at Paso Robles Wineries
How can wine cellar owners ensure that their collection is kept safe from external factors that can damage the wine?
Temperature Control: Maintaining a consistent temperature of 58°F in the wine cellar is essential. Wine requires specific temperature and humidity conditions to maintain its quality and flavor. Exposure to high temperatures can cause the wine to age prematurely, while low temperatures can slow down the aging process and alter the taste. To achieve this, wine cellar owners can install a cooling unit system that regulates the temperature level in the cellar.
Lighting and Light Exposure: Exposure to light can also damage wine by causing it to age prematurely and develop off-flavors. The ultraviolet rays in sunlight and artificial light sources can break down the organic compounds in wine, leading to undesirable changes in flavor, aroma, and color.
Dim lighting or LED lights can create a warm and inviting atmosphere while protecting the wine collection. Wine cellar owners can also invest in UV-filtering or tinted glass doors to minimize light exposure.
Humidity Control: High humidity can cause mold and mildew growth, whereas low humidity can dry out the corks, resulting in oxidation and spoilage.
To maintain the optimal humidity level of around 70%, owners can install a humidifier or dehumidifier in the cellar.
Vibration: Vibration can be particularly damaging to wine, disturbing the sediment and disrupting the aging process. To minimize vibration, wine cellar connoisseurs should choose a location away from vibration sources such as machinery, heavy foot traffic (for example, a staircase), or loud music.
Regular Inspections: Regular inspection and examination of the labels, corks, and wine itself for any changes or discoloration that may indicate a problem can help detect any issues before they become significant problems.
Materials: Insulation, flooring, walls, ceiling, and doors are all crucial factors in maintaining stable temperature and humidity levels and protecting the wine from light, vibration, and other external factors. Wine cellar walls should be thick enough to provide insulation and prevent temperature fluctuations. At the same time, solid wood or insulated glass doors are commonly used to keep wine safe from external elements. It is important to work with an experienced wine cellar builder and use quality materials to create the perfect environment for the wine collection to thrive.
When it comes to custom wine cellar design and installation, choosing a company with expertise and experience is important. Genuwine Cellars is a world leader in wine cellar installation services, with highly skilled installers and designers with a wealth of expertise and knowledge in creating ideal environments for wine storage. They work to ensure that every wine cellar is constructed to the highest standards and by individualized specifications, ensuring that your wine collection is protected and displayed to its utmost potential.
-Kateryna Sherstiuk at Genuwine Cellars
What are some key considerations to keep in mind when designing a wine cellar, in terms of both function and aesthetics?
The history of custom wine cellars can be traced back to the early 1970s when wine collecting began to gain popularity in the United States. During this time, wine enthusiasts started to recognize the importance of proper wine storage, as storing wine in a traditional refrigerator or pantry could damage the wine’s flavor and aroma.
As the demand for proper wine storage increased, wine cellar design and construction became specialized. In the early days, custom wine cellars were often built by general contractors who needed more knowledge of wine storage requirements. As a result, many early wine cellars needed proper insulation, cooling, and humidity control and were prone to temperature fluctuations, vibrations, harsh lighting, and other problems.
These days, specialized wine cellar companies offer expertise in wine storage and custom wine cellar design, and there are countless places to purchase parts if you want to build it yourself.
Lighting is an essential building block of an excellent wine cellar. Lighting isn’t only a technical feature to keep harsh lights away from the wine, but it is an integral aesthetic feature as it creates the room’s mood, dances as a reflection of the bottles, and showcases the artistry of each bottle. Plenty of magazines or Pinterest pages allow you to explore lighting to ensure you find the right look and feel for your taste.
Lastly, invest heavily in refrigeration. Many cheaper options won’t last very long, and nobody likes a noisy or inconsistent cellar designed to be a place of refuge for showcasing and enjoying your wine collection.
-Ken Wytsma at This Day in Wine History
What are some key factors to consider when designing a custom wine cellar, and how can they be incorporated into the overall design?
The first question that needs to be answered is where to place the wine cellar. With modern cooling capabilities, that are almost no limitations to where a wine cellar can be placed inside the home. We recommend you steer clear of your garage, as placing a wine cellar inside an unconditioned space like that requires many more hurdles to overcome than any other location in the home.
The second question is, what size do I make the wine cellar? Sometimes that question is answered for you as you already have a specific space that is a specific size, and you want to convert that to a wine cellar. Other times you are remodeling an unfinished area or building a new home, and the dimensions are flexible. That is when the most important question comes into play.
The third question, which is more times than not the most important, is how many bottles I want to store. The most significant regret we get from customers is a few years after having installed their cellar, and they state they didn’t build it big enough. As a result, a rule of thumb is to build the cellar for twice the size of your current wine collection. We also highly encourage customers to look at their buying habits and determine if they think that will be large enough or if we need to go bigger.
If you have a fixed size for your wine cellar space and have a max capacity for storage in mind, we often discuss going double deep with the racking, meaning you store two bottles deep per slot. The benefit of this is you get more storage in the space, and the disadvantage is the old saying “Out of sight. Out of mind”. You can lose track of what wines you store if you don’t keep a soundtrack of them in a spreadsheet or other inventory control software.
The types of storage you select will have a drastic effect on how much wine you can store, but for the person just starting to consider adding a wine cellar to their space, a reasonable guesstimate of what will fit in with a typical 8-foot ceiling you will be able to store about 72 bottles per foot if you are going to make an “L” or “U” shaped cellar deduct a foot from your wall length on the sides of the “U” and 2 feet off the back wall of the “U” when guesstimating the size.
-Tony Wilke at Wine Rack Concepts
What are some creative and space-efficient ways to design a wine cellar for a small home or apartment?
Designing a wine cellar for a small home or condo can take time and effort, especially with limited space. Therefore, prioritizing the efficiency of the racking layout within the given space is crucial. Our experience in this field has shown that clients often prefer a cork-out configuration to maximize the cellar’s capacity. This is an excellent way to store wine bottles while creating more space for additional racking.
Adding a decorative element, such as an angled or floating shelf, is recommended to make the space unique. This provides a beautiful and functional design element that adds character to the space. These additions can be made in a way that complements the overall design of the home or condo.
Regardless of the size of the cellar, insulation is the most critical aspect to consider when constructing it. Proper insulation in the ceiling, walls, and floor is essential in maintaining a consistent temperature and humidity level required for wine storage. With adequate insulation, the cellar may maintain the ideal temperature and humidity, which can harm the quality and taste of the wine. Fortunately, our TWS 360 solution provides complete design freedom while ensuring that the space is adequately insulated and warranted for performance within the cellar. With over 180 size options and various interior finishes, the TWS360 solution provides an engineered envelope that can be installed in as little as two days. This quick installation process is ideal for homeowners who want to enjoy their wine cellar as soon as possible.
Additionally, the TWS 360 solution offers both thermoelectric and compressor-based cooling options. This feature provides the flexibility to locate the cooling system in both a living space or a mechanical room. This allows for more creative options for the design of the wine cellar while still maintaining its functionality.
In conclusion, designing a wine cellar for a small home or condo requires careful consideration of the racking layout, insulation, and cooling options. By prioritizing these factors, clients can enjoy a functional and beautiful wine cellar that meets their unique needs. The TWS 360 solution offers a range of options that can be tailored to the specific requirements of any home or condo.
-Tanner Babcock at The Wine Square
What are some key factors to consider when designing a glass wine cellar?
To refrigerate or not refrigerate?
This is a nonsensical question when it comes to a wine cellar. Cellar implies chilled, right?
As home cellars have grown in popularity recently, refrigeration has become less common. Many homeowners want the sexy look of a glass wine cellar, but not the extra cost of refrigeration and construction required. When it comes to glass-enclosed wine storage, expect the cost to more than double if you add climate control. It is not just the cost of the unit. You must also replace the drywall with a green board and add closed-cell foam insulation to the walls.
Making it pretty
Don’t ignore the opportunity to make this feature the home’s focal point. Integrate different materials into the space. Consider wood shelves for warmth and luxe chrome racking from Vintage View, and finish the interior walls with a stone or tile. Also, consider adding glass to both sides to create a ‘see-through’ wine feature that will wow every guest.
For homes without space for a dedicated wine room/cellar, enclosing the space above cabinetry or a console is also a great feature.
Where in the home should it go
Wine features make great focal points right in the center of the home. Dining rooms are also a natural area to add a shallow ‘wine wall’ type cellar.
If you are adding refrigeration, a contractor will be able to tell you which spaces are viable to add ductwork. High-rise towers (without attic space) require creative solutions to house the refrigeration.
Avoid storing your wine in front of windows (a sommelier would cringe) as the UV rays are damaging to wine. This problem can be solved by adding a UV-resistant film to your exterior windows, or to the glass of the wine enclosure itself.
-Leslie Inniss at Builders Glass of Bonita
How can I properly manage my home wine cellar to ensure the quality and longevity of my wine collection?
Cellaring wine is more challenging than it sounds. I wish that weren’t the case. As wines age, they become more fragile and more prone to damage from UV light, excessive temperature, low humidity, and even micro-vibrations. Eliminating these variables is the key to ensuring quality for the long haul. If you cannot eliminate these variables, you might want to consider an off-site wine storage service that can guarantee stability. An added advantage to such a service is that you won’t have any wines accidentally opened by house guests if your cellar isn’t locked. The downside: they’re not immediately accessible at home.
So, if you go for it, now this: only rely on a simple wine rack in a room (even a basement room) if that room is temperature and humidity-controlled. Wines should be stored between 55-60º F, which is much cooler than room temperature. If you are storing a modest collection in a wine refrigerator, getting a unit with humidity control from a reliable brand that will not break down is worth the extra cost. I have a wine credenza at home with a cheap fan-based cooling system, and it only took three years for it to break and need repairs. The fluctuations in temperature, even when it was working, made it a poor choice for cellaring wine (it is now unplugged and a glorified wine rack for quick turn-around wines). Another option is to retrofit a space into a customized, sealed wine cellar, which can be quite expensive.
The long story short is to be sure you know what you are getting into, cellaring wine requires significant financial and energy resources, and if you are a casual collector, it might not be worth the cost and effort.
-Kevin Day at Opening a Bottle
What are the best practices for storing wine at home to ensure proper conservation and aging?
As I discuss in my recent book, Wine Taster’s Guide, fine wine is a bit like any other fine food: its main enemies are light, heat, and vibration (which is why storing wine above your refrigerator is a bad idea, even if there’s a built-in wine rack up there(. Most wines aren’t meant for long-term aging but must be consumed within a year or so. For those, any relatively dark, cool spot will do. Underground basements are great spots for longer wine storage, as they typically have some humidity (to help ensure the cork doesn’t dry out), are dark, and have slow, even temperature changes (wine doesn’t respond well to rapid movements in temperature, incredibly rapid increases).
For those in apartments or places without basements, storing wine on its side in specialized wine refrigerators is a good solution. Using a refrigerator designed for wine storage is the best option in those cases, as it will better minimize vibration, regulate temperature, and recapture humidity.
–Joe Roberts at 1 Wine Dude
What are some common wine faults that can affect the taste and aroma of a wine, and how can they be identified?
Cork taint also known as ‘corked wine’ is the most infamous offender when it comes to wine faults that can affect the taste and aroma of a treasured bottle.
Contrary to popular belief, corked wine has nothing to do with pieces of broken cork floating in wine. It’s actually caused by the presence of a chemical compound called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) in certain infected wine corks.
The reaction of TCA with wine causes it to smell musty and a bit like wet cardboard. It also tastes really flat, with very little flavor. It is thought that as much as 2% of wine bottles are corked, so keep your nose on high alert!
Oxygen is something that most wines love in the right quantities and that’s why we aerate or decant it. But overdo it and you have a flat, lifeless, often vinegary mess on your hands.
If your wine seems dull, with lackluster fruit flavors and has a sour, vinegar-like note to it then it may have suffered an ill fate at the hands of oxidation. Another key signal is the color being dull and brownish instead of vibrant red.
Oxidation like this in unopened wine is usually caused by a fault with the cork which may have dried and cracked after the bottle was stored for long periods in an upright position. If it’s a bottle of opened wine, it’s simply been open for too long.
On the subject of corks, excessive heat is a big problem for wine and it can usually be diagnosed with a quick cork inspection. ‘Cooked wine’ is the term given to wine that has been exposed to extreme heat. It’s a real pain because those lovely fresh fruity notes become muted like stewed or burnt fruit notes instead.
Tell-tale signs of cooked wine can be obvious from the cork which is sometimes forced upwards beyond the tip of the neck or a sticky wine residue which may be visible on the neck.
–Tim Edison at Wine Turtle
What are some tips for organizing and managing a wine inventory for a home wine cellar?
Organizing and managing a wine inventory for a home wine cellar can be a fun and rewarding activity, but it can also be challenging if not done correctly. Here are some tips to help keep your wines accessible to pair with any occasion.
Categorize your wines: Group your wines by varietal, region, vintage, or price point. This will help you quickly locate the wine you want to drink.
Use a wine inventory app or spreadsheet: Several apps and software programs, like CellarTracker, can help you track your wine collection. Alternatively, you can create a simple spreadsheet to track the details of each wine, including the name, vintage, producer, region, and any other relevant information.
Keep track of your purchases: Record the date you purchased each bottle, the quantity, and the price. This will help you keep track of your inventory and ensure that you are not overbuying. Some retailers may also allow you to swap out a faulted wine.
Keep track of consumption: When you drink a bottle, note it in your inventory system. This will help you keep track of what you have left and what you might need to restock.
Store your wine correctly: Keep it in a cool, dark, and humid environment, with the bottle on its side to ensure it ages properly. Consider investing in a wine fridge or cellar if you have an extensive collection.
Be aware of the vintage and consumed wines in their time: Most wines are meant to be consumed when released into the market within a year of your purchase. Some wines may hold for a time in the right condition, but only some are meant to age for multiple years.
If you are investing in high-profile wines, keep an eye on market values: Some wines appreciate value over time, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the market to ensure you’re not sitting on a goldmine.
Finally, wine is a social drink to be shared and enjoyed with friends and loved ones.
-Adam Acampora at Woodinville Wine Country
What role does humidity play in wine preservation, and what are some methods to control humidity levels in a wine storage area?
Humidity is one of the essential factors in wine preservation. The ideal humidity level for storing wine is between 50% and 70%. If the humidity is too low, the corks will dry out and shrink, allowing air to enter the bottle and spoil the wine. If the humidity is too high, mold and mildew can grow on the corks and labels.
Many methods exist to control humidity levels in a wine storage area, such as a humidifier or dehumidifier. These devices can be used to add or remove moisture from the air, respectively. Another method is to use a wine fridge, which should automatically set the proper humidity levels, in addition to the temperature.
If a fridge is out of the question, then there are a few things you can do to help control the humidity in your home. One is to avoid placing wine bottles near heat sources, such as radiators or fireplaces. Another is to avoid putting wine bottles in direct sunlight. Finally, you can use a wine storage bag or pillow to help regulate the humidity around your wine bottles.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your wine is adequately stored and preserved for years to come.
Here are some additional tips for storing wine:
- Store wine bottles on their sides. This will help keep the cork moist and prevent it from drying out.
- Keep wine bottles in a cool, dark place. Temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for storing wine.
- Avoid storing wine in direct sunlight or near heat sources.
- Do not store wine in a place that is too humid or too dry.
- If you won’t drink your wine within a few months, consider investing in a wine storage cabinet or room.
-Jesse Schwartz at The Wine Scribes
What is the ideal temperature for storing wine, and how can it be maintained consistently?
The industry standard for cellaring wine is around 12 – 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) though it is not always possible to keep to that rigorous standard. Your wines will not be at risk if you allow the temperature to rise to 15C (59F) or if the mercury drops to 10C (50F). But fluctuations must be as gradual as possible. The yo-yo effect of sudden temperature changes will accelerate evaporation and prematurely age your wines. Dramatic fluctuations in temperature can damage your wines permanently. Lower temperatures will slow chemical changes, while higher ones will speed them up (remember your high school chemistry).
The University of California at Davis conducted experiments to determine how heat affects wine. The researchers concluded that with each increase in temperature of 10 degrees Celsius (18F), the rate of chemical change doubled. So if the ambient temperature of your kitchen is, say, 22.8C (73F) while you’re cooking (or in a restaurant dining room in winter), the wine stored there will age twice as fast as the bottles resting in your cellar at 12.8C (55F).
Monitor your storage space with a temperature gauge to ensure consistency of ambient temperature.
I have kept all my wine cellars at a relative humidity of approximately 70 percent. This level is sufficient to ensure that the corks will not dry out from the top and that the labels will not start to peel off. Above 80 percent humidity, there is a danger of mold beginning to form. An inexpensive way to create humidity is to have a bucket of water next to your wine rack.
Make sure your wine storage area is dark – bright light can prematurely age your wine – and ensure the site is free from smells (paint cans, detergents, and other chemicals), as these can, over the long haul, affect the flavor of the wine.
-Tony Aspler at Tony Aspler, the Wine Guy
A home warranty for a wine cellar can provide valuable protection and peace of mind for wine collectors since it can help cover the repair or replacement costs of critical components, such as the cooling system, insulation, or even the wine racks. This can be especially important if your wine cellar is located in a region with extreme temperatures or weather conditions, as this can increase the risk of damage to your wine collection.
What are some tips for preserving wine after it has been opened?
There are a few methods that you can implement to make your favorite bottle of wine last just a few days longer once you have opened it! To start, the length of time that a bottle will last depends on the wine style. Red wines will typically last a bit longer due to specific compounds in the wine, while white wines tend to lose their vibrancy more quickly. To help elongate the amount of time these wines will remain drinkable, a combination of different methods will help!!
Wine lasts longer when you reduce the amount of oxygen in contact with the wine; a great tool to help with that is a Vacu-Vin Wine Preserver (or similar instrument). This pump device removes the oxygen from the already opened bottle, which will slow down the oxidization of the wine. For those that don’t know, oxidization happens when a wine’s exposure to air triggers a series of chemical reactions that convert ethanol [alcohol] into acetaldehyde.
The secondary tactic is temperature regulation. By keeping your open bottle of wine in a Wine Fridge or Kitchen Fridge, the cool (and consistent) temperatures also keep the wine from oxidizing as quickly! Studies have shown that cooler temperatures slow the molecules in the wine down, thus slowing down oxidization. So if you’re craving a glass of your favorite wine, seal the bottle, throw it back in the fridge, and you’ll be able to enjoy that bottle throughout the rest of the week!
-CJ Gormley at Hope Family Wines
What is the best way to store wine to ensure it stays fresh and flavorful for as long as possible?
Besides the wine itself, proper cellaring and storage are of utmost importance! Proper storage conditions can significantly enhance the quality and taste of wine, while improper storage can destroy it.
There are several important factors to consider when storing wine – temperature, humidity, light exposure, and stability.
Temperature and temperature fluctuations are one, if not the most critical factor to consider when cellaring wine. The ideal wine cellar should be 10 – 18 degrees Celsius, with 14 degrees generally considered the optimal temperature for long-term storage. Higher temperatures cause the wine to age faster, and high heat will likely damage it permanently. Low temperatures can slow the aging process and reduce the wine’s ability to develop. Wine needs to be stored in a cool place that is free from temperature fluctuations.
Humidity – wine should be stored in a location with a relative humidity of between 60-85%, with 80% considered ideal. Too much humidity can cause mold and mildew to grow on the wine’s label and cork, primarily causing cosmetic damage. Too little humidity can cause the cork to dry out, allowing air into the bottle and causing the wine to spoil.
Light exposure – particularly sunlight, can be harmful to wine. UV rays can cause wine to lose its delicate aromas and flavors, while visible light can cause wine to oxidize. Wine needs to be stored in a dark place free from visible light and UV exposure.
Vibration/stability – wine should be stored in a location free from vibration and movement. These factors can cause wine to become agitated and develop an off-taste by unsettling delicate components such as tannins.
Finally, storing wine in a location free from strong odors is also important, as these can affect the wine’s overall aroma and flavor. Cork is a permeable closure, and thus powerful odors can seep into the wine through the cork.
Proper wine storage is an investment in the longevity and quality of your wine, and it is well worth the effort and investment to ensure that your wine is stored correctly.
-Fernando P. Rueda at Rueda Wine Co.
What are some effective methods to preserve the freshness and quality of wine before opening the bottle?
The key elements in preserving your wine for quality and aging are light, temperature, humidity, movement, and storing it horizontally. The first is light. It is recommended to store your wine in a dark environment, especially away from any direct sunlight. UV rays will destroy and alter the quality of the wine inside the bottle. Even secondary ambient UVA & UVB rays are harmful.
The second critical element is temperature. There is a reason wine has historically been stored in caves starting in Europe and now in the USA. The cave temperature is relatively constant at 55 degrees. Keeping wine in the 55 to the 57-degree range will allow the wine to mature and tannins to “soften up,” as well as retain any fruit from dissipating. The key is having the temperature be constant with fluctuations of more than 5 degrees. So for short-term storage, keeping wine in the dark closet at 67 degrees will be better than keeping it in the “open rack” in the dining room with sunlight and temperature fluctuations from day & night and winter to summer temperature swings.
Humidity is often overlooked but is essential in keeping the cork moist. Humidity should be between 50-70%. If no humidity control exists, it will dry up the cork and allow air to penetrate the bottle. That is the kiss of death of your wine. Inexpensive wine refrigerators suck the humidity out and do the opposite of what is desired. Your higher-end “wine refrigerators” will provide humidity into the unit. Thus the varying costs in units.
Last is movement. Keeping your wine “resting without movement” is also essential. Holding your bottle lying horizontally and not handling it to show someone the label will preserve it from any floating or unfiltered material in the wine which imparts flavor. Keeping it horizontally also keeps the cork moist on the inside of the bottle, while the humidity on the outside helps the cork retain its “locking out air.”
-Michael Kelly at California Wines and Wineries
What are the most important factors to consider when storing and preserving wines, and how can they be maintained optimally?
There are many factors to consider; however, the main ones are temperature, light, and humidity. Other factors include how the bottle is stored and to avoid vibrations or movements. Let’s start with the main elements:
Temperature: The ideal temperature for storing wine lies between 10-13°C, so best to avoid places near hot pipes, radiators, or anywhere with temperature fluctuations. Temperature fluctuations can destroy the wine. For serious wine lovers, the easiest solution is to get a wine cooler. Hence, the kitchen is the worst place in the house to store wine other than for a few days.
Light: Protect your wines from sunlight, which is why good wine always comes in a dark bottle. Light is as damaging to the wine as fluctuating temperatures. This is because the light is, basically, heat.
Humidity: Store your wine at the proper moisture. If you are a serious wine lover and thinking of getting a wine cooler, the wine cooler will allow setting the humidity level. Humidity is necessary when it comes to preventing the cork from dehydrating; a dry cork can speed up the aging process and eventually lead to the oxidization of the wine. This is especially important when storing wine for several years. Bottles using screwcaps don’t need to be stored horizontally.
How to store the bottle: When storing wine in a wine cooler or a wine rack, you should always ensure that the bottles are positioned horizontally. This aims to keep the cork nice and moist, prevent it from drying out, and speed up the aging process, as illustrated above.
Don’t move it: Movement stresses the wine. Even if you are proud of your wine collection, don’t constantly touch or show them to your friends. Avoid storing your wine near vibrating appliances, from the washing machine to tumble dryers.
-Andrea D’Ercole at Italyabroad.com
What are some effective techniques for conserving wine and ensuring its quality over time?
The vast majority of Americans drink their wines within one week of purchase, however an increasing number are buying at least a few bottles for future special occasions. If you have any wine you are holding onto you should invest in some temperature controlled storage. Ideally all of your wine is stored 50-60 degrees F, laying on their sides, in the dark, free of vibrations.
There are many wine refrigerators that hold anywhere from 6 to 800 bottles. It’s important to note that not any mini-fridge will do. Food refrigerators are set for below 40 degrees F and dry while wine refrigerators are typically around 55 degrees F and around 60% humidity. WineEnthusiast.com is a great source for a wide range of sizes, styles, & prices starting as low as $150. You can also find some basic models at Target, Home Depot, and Costco. You might even be able to find a used one on CraigsList or NextDoor, and if you outgrow the fridge you buy, you may be able to sell your old one on these sites.
If you have a closet to spare, you could put in insulation, a cooling unit, and wine racks and you’re good to go. You could hire a general contractor but you’d be better off hiring a wine cellar designer. If you want it to be a showpiece in your home regardless of size, ask to see photos of their projects and check their references. If you want to do it yourself, it can be as simple as cutting a hole in an interior wall & framing it with 2x4s to the exact size of your cooling unit, nailing rigid foam to the sheetrock inside the closet, and putting a door sweep or exterior door on. A great source for modular wine racks that you can configure to almost any size and shape is WineRacksAmerica.com
-David Glancy at San Francisco Wine School
By following the previous advice, you can gain valuable insights and knowledge to help you start collecting wine and build a successful wine cellar. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting out, this article’s expert tips and advice can help you take your wine collection to the next level.
Maria Jose is a Marketing Specialist and does Content Marketing at Porch. She is passionate about animals and her hobbies are reading, writing, traveling and music.