Do You Need a Cellar?
Like us, you’ve caught a bad case of the wine bug. But if your storage specs aren’t up to snuff, you’re putting your pleasure and your hard-earned dough at risk.
Here’s the ultimate guide to picking the perfect cellar for your specific wine life.
—Mike Dawson & Marshall Tilden III
You’re storing 20 or so bottles (that you plan to drink soon) in the open air: atop the refrigerator, counter, that rack in the living or dining room, etc.
The Threats > Light & Temperature
Like beer, light and temperature are wine’s top predators. Lamps and sunlight can kill your collection. Room temperature is too warm, and your kitchen fridge is like a vino death trap. It’s too darn cold and prevents wine from evolving properly. Plus, its lack of humidity dries corks quickly and can lead to oxidation, which dulls the juice. To protect wine for up to a year, it needs to be stored in a dark place at 55–57˚F.
The Protection > American Designer Refrigerator
The 24-bottle model will keep bottles at the perfect temperature, and it’ll fit under your kitchen counter; $1,499.
You have 70–200 bottles, and you plan to keep many for at least a few years. You have a large wine fridge or a mini EuroCave, but you’re outgrowing it.
The Threat > Humidity
For bottles you plan on drinking within a year, a wine fridge is all you need. But wine fridges only ensure the perfect light and temperature—they don’t control humidity. To protect corks and provide the right aging environment beyond a year, you need to maintain the proper light, temp and humidity.
The Protection > EuroCave Revelation Cellar
The 200-bottle Revelation maintains the perfect temp and humidity level, its door blocks UV light and it even guards against vibration; $6,000.
You have 300–500 bottles—most of which you’re keeping for several years. You’ve outgrown one, or even two EuroCaves, and more bottles are on the way.
The Threat > Stress
Those cases sitting on top or beside your already-packed EuroCaves are at risk—and you know it. Every time you walk by the clutter, or grab a bottle, you can feel both your wallet and palate being cheated.
The Protection > A Walk-in Home Cellar
The good news is you don’t need a mansion, or even a basement. Walk-in closets, nooks, kitchen pantries and spaces under stairs are usually big enough. To wit: a 5-foot by 5-foot space can hold up to 600 bottles, along with all the climate-control gear.
If your keepsake bottles have been out in the open collecting a heavy coat of dust for a while—um, how do we put this? They’re probably dead. Sorry. (You can’t revive dead wine, even with proper storage.) Still, there’s always the slight chance some have miraculously survived years of room temperature and light exposure. Translation: Drink them now.
If you’re diving headlong into growing a wine library, don’t begin by buying up cases of Bordeaux or Burgundy. Instead, start with where you’re going to store the suckers. Experts who make and sell wine cellars say most collectors will usually fill whatever space they’ve invested in.
If you’re buying bottles strictly to sell or trade, do yourself a favor and store them in a commercial offsite wine cellar. It removes the temptation to crack unopened cases and your investment is insured.
- 1The Drinker
- 2The Ager
- 3The Collector
- 4Dust Bust