If you want to start a wine cellar to store your favorite bottles, you need to know some basic rules. Here we present you some tips, thus your prized wines mature in optimal conditions.
Aging wines is an investment. Sure, you can keep a special vintage of some icons of our wine industry in some and sell them very well after 20 or 30 years. But you can also save your favorite wines for sentimental reasons and open them to celebrate a special occasion, like a wedding anniversary or the birth of a child. But in all the cases, before starting your own collection, you need to prepare a place with some very specific conditions such as controlled temperature or humidity.
If you live in a studio or in a small apartment it is difficult to build a stone cellar of twenty square meters. That would be roughly three-quarters of your place. Then it all depends on the space available, the number of bottles you want to store and budget. Generally speaking, you can choose:
- Shelves: These types of deposits can be made of wood or metal. It is an easy way to have a “hold” for wines without much attention. This solution serves you for a small amount of wine bottles and storage conditions are not the best to keep wines for a long time. Temperature variations are dangerous if you want to keep your wines for decades.
- Wooden boxes: If you buy your favorite wine in a wooden box, this container can serve you as a personal cellar. But it has to be made of wood. Cardboard boxes always run the risk of getting wet and moisture excess promotes the mold growing and it is dangerous for wine. This solution serves to store from low to moderate amounts of wines.
- A closet-wine cellar or a cellar / fridge: You can buy them from five or ten to fifty bottles. These modern cellars are very useful when you do not have much space. But their price is not low. The difference between a cupboard and a fridge cellar is that the last one maintains the ideal temperature to consume wine when desired, without having to use an ice bucket. Most modern furniture has different temperatures compartments, allowing to save white and red wines at the appropriate service temperature (as we know, white wines require lower temperatures than red wines).
- A room designed to be a cellar:It is a space isolated from the rest of the house and with a space designed for wines. Formerly such places were made of stone. Today there are countless solutions to keep the wines in the best possible conditions.
But no matter if you occupy a corner or a large space for your wines, the bottom line is to worry about some key conditions such as:
This the most difficult factor to regulate. The place where you keep your wines must maintain a constant temperature (not less than 5 °C and no more than 18 ° C). Always avoid extreme temperature fluctuations. During the year, the average temperature varies seasonally, but you cannot allow abrupt changes. It is very useful to install weather-stripping on windows and doors to avoid excessive heat or cold.
An (natural or artificial) intense light can cause defects in wine, as an excess of oxygen, especially in whites. Don’t keep an artificial light near your wines and avoid exposing them directly to the sun. You should also abstain from exposing the bottle of wine in the living room (no matter how attractive is the label for our friends) because light is an enemy of wine.
A good level of humidity is between 75-80%. This prevents the wine cork to dry. For this reason the bottles should be stored in a horizontal position, so that the cork is always in contact with the liquid. Formerly the cellars were literally in stone rooms, where the soil was porous and maintained optimal humidity. Today you have to use tools designed especially for modern cellars. But be careful with this issue. Excess moisture is not healthy for wine. It doesn’t only destroy the labels, but can also damage the cork.
The space where you keep your wine needs good air circulation. This is essential to protect the bottles from odor and mold. In addition, remember that even with good ventilation system, wine absorbs aromas. Therefore you should not keep them near chemicals, deodorants, vegetables or other foods with strong aromas, such as potatoes, garlic, ham, onions, etc. These odors penetrate through the cork porosity and can change the natural bouquet of the wine.
Vibrations can damage wine. The bottles have to move as little as possible and be away from appliances. Yes, I know that in countries like Chile with lots of earthquakes, it is difficult to keep bottles without movement. It is very important that each wine has its place and that you do not need to move five others when you want to uncork a label. The shelves have to be as stable as possible, without risk of bottles falling and easily accessible.
Finally, it is very valuable to have a cellar journal, which carries your personal record of the stored wines: where purchased, when, how much you have paid for them, when you opened the bottles, etc. This way you will always know your hidden treasures and you will live the fascinating experience of collecting wines more intensely.