For wine aficionados, a wine cellar can serve as their happy place where they can be surrounded by their passion. It might sound a bit whimsical but there’s something exquisite about a wine cellar, no matter its size. If you are in the process of planning your wine cellar, here are some tips and tricks for making the most of your space.
Take the Temperature Into Account
To make the most of your coveted wines, it’s best to store them in a cool place. Cooler temperatures will slow down the maturation process by maintaining a more controlled environment within the bottle, creating a gradual interaction between the wine and oxygen.
When it comes to choosing the right temperature for your wine cellar, a good place to start is 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If you plan on enjoying your wines sooner rather than later, then you can go a bit warmer, up to 60 degrees. If it’s going to be a while before you crack open a bottle, steer closer to 50 degrees.
Whichever temperature you choose, remember that it needs to stay consistent. Moderate changes in temperature result in differences in pressure and oxygen levels within the bottle and can impact its taste.
If you’ve got the budget, and your wine collection is getting rather important and valuable, then a professional cooling unit for your wine cellar may be the best option. It also enables you to control humidity levels, which leads us to the next point.
Don’t Forget About Humidity
Controlling the humidity level is going to be especially important for cork-stopped wines as it regulates the moisture surrounding the bottles. There is a bit of a debate around the ideal humidity for a wine cellar; some say that 70% is a good target and others suggest that you should consider your environment. For instance, if you live in a dry location, then that will affect your humidity controls and prompt you to aim for a higher percentage.
To take care of the humidity in your wine cellar, consider placing a humidifier or a water source inside. This could be a large bowl of water or even a regular spritz of water all over the cellar. Obviously, a humidity control wine cellar cooling unit will be the most convenient option here.
Think About How You’ll Store the Bottles
Along with humidity, the position in which your wines are stored plays a big role in determining the interior moisture content of your bottles. Be sure to store your bottles either horizontally or upside-down so that the wine maintains contact with the cork.
When a bottle sits vertically for long periods of time, the cork is left to get hard, brittle, and too oxygen-porous. You can bypass this scenario by investing in wine racks that place the bottles on a downward diagonal or on their sides. As a bonus, the uniformity of this setup creates a particularly impressive wine cellar.
Wines should be kept away from natural light as UV rays can damage your wine. Many wines are bottled in brown or dark green glass, which works as a natural shield against UV rays. That being said, even artificial light can harm your wines. Therefore, you will want to opt for minimal lighting, ideally just enough to see which wine bottle you’re picking up. There is no need for a big light show here.
Some good choices include red light bulbs, low-light LED bulbs, or tinted work lights. Since conventional light bulbs give off a lot of heat, they are not a good option for a wine cellar. Stick to one of those first three options if you can so that you can decrease the heat exposure. Also, be strategic about where you place the lights. For instance, bulbs that sit directly over the bottles might not be the best choice but you could try shelf lights for an aesthetic touch.
Consider a Different Storage Solution
If you’ve got just a small collection of wines or you live in a place where space is limited (such as an apartment), then a wine cellar might not be the best option. Something that might work better is a wine cabinet, which can serve as a sort of miniature wine cellar.
A wine cabinet eliminates the need to find a cool, dry place for your bottles, especially if you opt for a cabinet with a thermostat. These are known as active wine cabinets and they are particularly useful in regulating the temperature and humidity levels. Otherwise, you can get a passive wine cabinet and keep it in a dark, cool corner of your home, such as the basement. Wine cabinets are also more affordable and come in a variety of sizes and styles so you can go as basic or fancy as you want.
Starting a wine cellar is a slow process but it’s worth it for those who are serious about their collections. Whatever you choose, keep the above tips in mind so that you can protect your wines and display them in a way that makes you proud. With some patience and research, you’ll be well on your way.
Lori Wade is a journalist from Louisville. She is a content writer for those who have experience in small editions, Lori is now engaged in news and conceptual articles on the topic of home decor. If you are interested in gardening or lifestyle, you can find her on Twitter & LinkedIn. She has good experience and knowledge in the field.