Wine Storage – For Your Collecting And Tasting Pleasure

Written by Aksel Ritenis

wine-storageCollecting wine is a personal persuit. Developing your tastes and building your collection are parts of an individual journey, though often – and fortunately – one you’ll enjoy and share with other wine enthusiasts. How you undertake that journey reflects how you store, age, and display your wine.

Your ideal wine storage option may be a custom-built cellar in your basement or a refrigerated, insulated converted closet adjacent to your dining room. It could be series of self-contained under-counter chillers in various entertainment areas of your home, racking to dispaly bottles of wine behind a bar, temperature–controlled space under a staircase, or a combination of wine storage options.

What’s truly ideal is what’s best for you… and for your wine collection. As you consider how to store and age your wine, you will confront issues of convenience and capacity, learn about optimum wine storage conditions, scour your home for available space, develop budgets, reveal your passion, and marry form with function. Consider these elements early, and work to find a balance that leads you to an inspired solution worthy of your collection.

Home wine cellars or other storage options are ideal locations for a wine collection, regardless of size. Start with a healthy respect for what conditions wines require to age properly and how each wine and vintage differs, and be willing to provide them a space that suits their needs.

The style of your wine cellar makes a statement that reflects your depth of devotion to your hobby – an intimate experience of taste and appreciation.

What are „optimum” storage conditions? Regardless of the wine storage option you choose, the critical elements are constant temperatures and average to slightly moist humidity.

Wine ages best at an unwavering temperature set in the range between 55° and 65° F (13° to 18° C ) and 50 to 75 percent relative humidity. You can safely store the vast majority of a modern wine collection at the same temperature and humidity, whether its red or white.

For wine to age, you must control the temperature of the cellar or storage location. In simplest terms, the warmer wine is, the faster it ages. Within limits, your wine will age more quickly at a steady, higher temperature than it will if the same vintage is stored at a lower temperature.

Keeping the temperature constant is more important to proper wine storage and aging than your choice of a relative temperature setting within the preffered range. Always aim to achieve a consistent temperature within the optimal range when you build a space for wine. It’s especially important when you convert cabinets, bookcases, and closets, but proper preparation of any storage space will make success more likely.

Climate-controlled wine storage requires adequate insolation and moisture vapor barriers, air-recirculated refrigeration, tight, durable door and window seals, and backup of electrical and refrigeration systems to prevent any lapses in service.

wine-storage-2Are you ready to take the plunge? Beyond any doubt, a room devoted to wine is foremost in the plans of every enthusiast and collector.

A custom wine cellar is the wisest investment you can make if you have a large or growing collection of wine selections and vintages that require aging and proper storage to reach their full promise/potential. Giving the collection a proper space will add to your enjoyment of the wine itself.

Design and build a custom wine cellar specifically for your collection, taking into account your available space, budget, and the convenience of having ready access to quality wine. You can locate it nearly anywhere in your home – in an unused closet, a room corner, in a pantry, under a stairwell, or even in an attic – though some spots, such as basements, are better-suited evironments that others.

Wine cellars deserve storage racks, and bins designed and built specifically for your collection. Redwood is far the most common material for wine racks. It is beautiful and naturally resists moisture damage, decay, and insect infestation.

Bottles held individually in racks shouls be snug and secure from vibration. The rack should hold the bottles nearly flat or slightly inclined with the cork submerged, so that the ullage – air bubble – rests near the middle of the bottle.

Bin racking stores bottles loosely on top of one another, often to save space. Remember, however, that bins make labels hard to identify, are more prone to breakage, and actually waste space if case quantities leave the bins partially filled.

An exception to the cautionary note about bin racking exists for full-case shelf racking. Make sure your cellar accomodates wine by the case for storage or display. Cases of wine hold the bottles in an upside-down position or nearly flat in the case of a wooden Bordeaux box. Each shelf holds one or more cases or boxes of the same vintage and label.

Avoid long-term storage of wine in carboard cases. Cardboard cases will deteriorate in the humid conditions needed for an aging wine cellar, which may cause the bottles to break if left unchecked, and over time they become unsightly. Invest in woodden boxes and transfer bottles to them when you store the wine in your cellar.

If you store wine in a standart refrigerator – even some economy wine chillers – be aware that you’re placing your investment in less-than-ideal conditions. Refrigerators and many chillers draw in outside air and cool it; air within the unit exhausts to the outside. This continuous cycle of replacing warm, moist, stale air with cool, dry air dehydrates everything inside the unit – including your wine. As a result, the corks dry out, wine evaporates through the closures, and oxygen enters the bottle, accelerating aging.

Refrigeration systems specifically designed for wine cellars and quality chillers, by contrast, recirculate the air and condense moisture within the units, recovering it to maintain constant humidity. As a result, the wine ages and is preserved in a climate of appropriate humidity and temperature.

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Aksel Ritenis

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