Wine connoisseurs, those who admire of a bottle of bubbly every now and then and folks who receive wine as a gift for holiday festivities all find themselves looking for the best place to store wine. Wine storage is as varied as the flavors and depths of wine itself and like wine, wine storage greatly depends on the preference of the user.
According to a poll conducted in 2007 by Golfweek, 54% of those polled reported drinking an average of four glasses of wine per week. Furthermore, the Wine Institute ranks the United States as the 13th highest country of wine consumption per capita and reports a 10.01% increase in wine consumption from 2001 to 2005.
Determining the best place for wine storage will depend on a few factors: Do you intend to host frequent parties for which you will need wine? How avid a wine collector are you or may you become? How quickly do you consume wine? How varied are your tastes in wine? How convenient is it for you to purchase new wine? What is your price range to purchase wine and how much are you willing to invest in wine storage?
Now more than ever before, high quality wine is widely available because of more efficient wine making, preserving and storage methods. Along with better wine production comes the need for consumers to have personal wine storage.
Individuals can obtain effective wine storage by purchasing a wine cabinet, building a wine cellar or renting a wine storage unit from a professional self storage facility. Whether your wine collections is one lone bottle or thousands, you’ll need a place to store wine.
On the small scale, countertop wine racks, wine rack carts and hanging wine racks are an economical and practical way to store a few bottles of wine. Retailers have seen a significant increase in the purchase of wine storage accessories, especially for gifts and around the holidays. Price ranges for wine racks and carts are typically $40 to $400.
The next level of wine storage offers more ideal temperatures for wine storage by way of wine coolers or wine refrigerators. The wine storage capacity for wine coolers can range from 40 to 200 bottles. They are ideal for more efficient long term wine storage; they keep wine cooled at a constant temperature. Larger wine refrigerators may have separate climate controlled areas, which are ideal for separating red wine storage and white wine storage. This form of wine storage can be purchased at most appliance stores and many wine specialty stores. Price ranges for wine coolers and refrigerators start near $100 and go up.
Refrigerated wine cabinets are another wine storage solution for a well established or expanding wine collection. Wine cabinets are ideal for collectors wanting wine storage that blends with furniture. Wine cabinets provide an independent wine storage unit while combining the functionality of wine racking with the luxury of wine refrigeration in one cabinet. These cabinets are often sold in varying styles such as stainless steel and wood cabinetry. Wine cabinets are usually custom ordered and the price ranges from $2,500 and up.
Serious collectors can purchase custom wine cellars crafted by the pros. If it’s your dream to turn the basement or stairwell closet into a wine cellar, this is the option for you. Custom wine cellars offer endless possibilities in wine storage. Those who purchase their very own customized wine storage enjoy the freedom of choosing the wood and stain of their cellar. Creating your own architectural masterpiece for which you can enjoy tasting, entertaining and admiring your wine collection is more than just a place to store wine, it’s an heirloom.
The price range for custom wine cellars depends on the square footage of the space and the limit is determined by your budget. If you are a wine connoisseur, the sky is the limit when it comes to how far you can go with a personal wine cellar for your wine storage needs.
Investing in a wine cellar doesn’t come without commitment; you’ll have to be ready to dedicate a space in your home. What if you plan on moving? Will you see a return on your investment into a customized wine cellar? What if you don’t have enough space to dedicate solely to wine storage; remember, the temperature will be quite cool, so you won’t be spending extended amounts of time in the space. And, even though it seems impossible in the beginning, most wine collections grow beyond the capacity of the collector’s wine storage space.
That’s where offsite wine storage facilities come into play. Wine cellars, or offsite wine storage often provide more than just the luxury of space. Professional wine cellars and wine storage services often offer a full range of services to guests of the cellar, which may include private rooms for tasting.
The benefits of using offsite wine storage are that your wine will be safely stored in a climate controlled environment to encourage perfect long term aging. Your wine collection won’t be taking up valuable space in your own home, and you can store a smaller amount of wine in your home for impromptu parties or dinners. Offsite wine storage may also prevent you from being tempted to prematurely open that special bottle.
The price range of offsite wine storage offers the lowest initial cost, as customized cellars and wine cabinets can cost thousands of dollars. Some wine cellars also offer insurance so that guests feel safe storing wine at their facility and know their investment is protected.
Unlike most food and drink, wine can improve over time. However, wine doesn’t accidentally develop and age into the complex wine we know today. Without understanding the elements and variables that affect wine, dirty containers and exposure to air can quickly turn good wine to vinegar.
The art of storing wine is as ancient as wine making. Wine storage began in the caves of Europe. The caves were an ideal environment for wine storage because they provided constant temperatures ranging between 55 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit with 55 to 75 percent relative humidity. Today, many of the same guidelines are used for man made wine storage environments
For most of history, the assumption about wine was that the newest wine was the best wine. The Romans found that tightly sealed wine could improve with age. The Romans are credited with being the first to use a cork to seal wine, although some records credit a French monk named Dom Perignon as the first to store wine by sealing it with cork.
Cork was first recorded by the Egyptians thousands of years ago as they discovered it’s sealing properties. Ancient Greece also used cork to craft fishing boats, sandals and stoppers for vessels and olive oil. The Romans also constructed roofing materials, beehives, ships and women’s shoes from cork.
Cork comes from the cork tree (Quercus Suber) found in Spain and Portugal. Strips of cork are removed and dried for six months, then boiled for an hour and a half and then dried again for three weeks. After this process, the cork is cut into the shapes we are familiar with, most common is the cylindrical shape used in wine bottles for wine storage.
Though cork has been used as a wine closure for hundreds of years, natural cork remains an unequaled wine closure and one of the most important factors in wine storage. The light, impermeable, resistant, compressible and elastic properties of cork make it perfectly matched as a wine closure and allow wine to age for long periods while in wine storage.
The Roman Empire also invented the glass bottle. Serving and storing wine in glass containers allowed the wine to be unaffected, unlike other wine containers such as barrels and skins.
In the 1600’s, English glassmakers began using charcoal to heat their fires, which resulted in hotter fires and thicker, stronger bottles.
Before corked bottles, wine was often stored in barrels, casks and amphorae and poured out when needed. Together, the cork and thicker bottle catapulted wine making and wine storage into a new level. This eventually allowed wine makers the capability to store wine for decades; the stored wine age well and brought wine drinkers an enjoyable new range of wine making, drinking and wine storage options.
Much is known about how to store wine properly. We know that wine breathes and changes daily. There are four main things to consider when storing wine: temperature, light, vibration and the cork.
The ideal temperature for both red and white wines is 55 degrees Fahrenheit. More important than the exact temperature is the consistency of that temperature.
Light and UV rays can also damage wine as it ages in the bottle. Many residential wine cabinets, refrigerators, and certainly countertop wine racks allow light to filter through glass doors or directly onto the bottle itself. Total darkness can be achieved by purchasing wine storage options with no glass display or by placing wine refrigerators in a closet or pantry where the door can be closed.
Vibration disturbs aging wine, so areas with heavy foot traffic and laundry rooms are not ideal for wine storage.
Keeping the cork in contact with the wine by laying the bottle down on itsr side prevents the cork from drying out. Dry corks contract, which then allows air and wine to pass between the cork and the bottle, which leaves the wine dull.
Wine storage does not require customized cellars and great expense. Keeping these tips in mind and finding the wine storage option that best suits your lifestyle may be as simple as placing a wine rack in a closet or purchasing a small wine cooler from a local appliance store. Offsite wine storageis an excellent option that is maintenance free for wine collectors.
As your wine collection grows, you’ll need to keep track of each bottle’s aging process. You can keep track using a cellar book and simply recording each new wine that enters the cellar and crossing it off as you remove them. There are also many software programs that make managing your wine collection and keeping track of your wine storage system easy and fun.