Articles – Wine Cellars: Why The Fuss?

Written by Nicole Martins of CellarYourWine


Imagine discovering an Ancient wine jar like the one discovered in Hajji Firuz, in Iran, that is 7,000 years old, and being able to drink a 7,000 year old vintage. While it sounds like an opportunity of a life time, both the storage and aging processes would have rendered this wine unfit to drink. Now, flash forward to present time, where “ancient” might represent a vintage bottle of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1966, costing at auction $850.

Drinking a special bottle and year such as this would undoubtedly yield a memorable experience. But, what if it this bottle of wine was not stored properly? The result could lead to a harsh experience whereby both money and wine are literally poured down the drain.

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Don’t Pour Money or Wine Down the Drain

If you’re interested in preserving or collecting fine wine, your number one goal is to make sure that storage conditions are in check. For aging wine, look no further that the French Caves, which are role models for present day wine cellars.

Conditions within the caves remain constant, with temperature between 55 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity levels between 50 to 70 percent. In addition, French caves are dark and free from regular above-ground vibration: these are two other important factors for wine storage.

In order to preserve and age wine in your own home, it is essential that the above conditions be met. This is done typically by having a wine cellar built, which, by the way, can be built in any part of the house, not just the basement or garage as many people think.

Cellar construction costs will vary depending upon the scope of design which can be low-tech, the size of a small closet; or as grand as a wine cellar that rivals a Napa Valley Winery where bells, whistles and custom-options are included.

Building a properly designed wine cellar is different than constructing a regular room in your house. This room instead will require specific materials such as vapor barriers and insulation to maintain the chill and humidity level within.

Equipment such as standard or split cooling systems as well as wine racks are integral components within the wine cellar. Racking systems are often wall mounted for maximum space utilization. Wine racks come in kits or can be custom made depending upon budget and scope. Determining the amount of bottles to be stored plays a key role in deciding both racking options and cellar size; this is obviously a starting point in design.