When someone tells you they have a wine cellar, chances are your mind wanders to images of mega-mansions and dollar signs. While this personal El Dorado may have been limited to the ultrarich in the past, today it has become surprisingly affordable and an increasingly common interior design in middle class homes. Being able to reach for a diversified selection of bottles to enjoy with friends or family is often enough to convince an oenophile to invest in a wine cellar. But, before you go knocking down walls, here are a few points to consider in storing your liquid gold.
What is a wine cellar?
Simply put, it’s a room designed to produce the best environment (e.g., temperature, humidity, light exposure, and storage) to maintain your wine for future enjoyment. We’re talking hundreds or even thousands of bottles! If that’s out of your range, than a self-contained wine refrigerator might be a better option. But whichever path you take, definitely store your wine in one of the two. Keeping a bottle in a cupboard or (God forbid!) on top of your fridge will lead to nothing but trouble over time.
It preserves the quality of the wine for years.
Wine is perishable. Even a slight rise in temperature can ruin a great vintage. When properly stored, quality can be preserved and, in some cases, even improved. A well-stored bottle (we’re talking a decade or more) can develop a very complex flavor and aroma worth waiting to experience. This last part is key to building a wine cellar. If you’re looking to store your wine for a few years, months, or days before uncorking, a wine cellar may not be for you. Instead, you’ll want to consider a wine refrigerator, which is smaller and perfect for protecting bottles for shorter periods of time.
Whichever you choose, keep in mind the ideal temperature for storage, which is about 55 degrees Fahrenheit (or 12-13 degrees Celsius). Too little or too much humidity can also send the quality of your bottle in a downward spiral. Too much humidity may lead to mold concerns and too little humidity can dry out the cork allowing air in and oxidation. Either will ensure a bad drinking experience. The ideal humidity is between 50-70%.
It protects against vibrations.
As they age, red wines release sediments. Vibrations in the storage environment (such as cupboards or even a poorly maintained wine cooler) can disturb these sediments and reduce their quality. Once a bottle is stored, it should not be moved until you are ready to open it. According to some studies, a great vintage can deteriorate in about 18 months from excessive vibrations from nearby machines or other movements in the environment.
It helps organize your collection.
A wine cellar is essential if you have a large collection or if you wish to acquire one. A wine cellar gives you the opportunity to keep all your inventory in one place, along with all the necessary accessories.
Easy access to your entire collection can simplify the management of your bottles. You’ll also be more aware of your inventory which will help you determine the most optimal drinking window.
It saves you money…
If you have a large, safe space to store your bottles, it means that you can buy wine by the case rather than by the bottle. Buying in quantity allows you to pay less per bottle. Sometimes significantly less. You can also take full advantage of wine deals by buying in bulk at a reduced price.
… and earn you money.
Because the predictable conditions of a wine cellar give you the confidence to purchase more expensive and higher quality vintages, that means you can turn from being a simple collector into an investor and purchase for resale.
It can also add value to your property. A professionally installed wine cellar is a huge selling point to many oenophiles. A serious vintage wine collector may be willing to pay more just for the convenience of having an already integrated wine cellar.
A professionally installed wine cellar will fit the decor of your home.
A wine cellar is not a simple utilitarian addition to your home, it can be a work of art. Remember, you are making an investment in your home. When it is installed by the right builder, you will have the opportunity to choose elements that match your tastes and that integrate well with the rest of your interior design.
It increases your wine knowledge.
Taking your wine collection seriously can only enhance your knowledge and passion for enology. It can also have an impact on your travel choices. You will probably seek to visit international wine regions and local vineyards to update and enrich your collection.
In addition, wine cellars can be impressive to visit and are a great way to present your collection to your guests.
Entertainment and social value
There are few better ways to show your enthusiasm for great wine than by showing off your wine collection. With a Coravin in hand and a few great glasses, you can offer guests to sample different wines and even easily organize your own wine tastings. Dinner with friends will take on a more meaningful experience and give your guests an peak into you. Let’s face it, your collection and the stories you tell about the bottles is just as much a part of you as any other experience. It’s like walking into a personal photo album (but with labels vs. pictures!). Through these discussions, you may find common experiences that you never knew existed and maybe even meet other wine enthusiasts for future adventures.
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