Porch has brought together a team of experts for an article on wine cellar design, with a section from me on Glass Wine Cellar Design! You can read the full article by clicking here. Stop scouring the internet when you can hear all the most important questions answered bywine cellar designers in one place, sharing their most valuable information, with you. It’s definitely worth read.
Below you can find my contribution, and a few more that had some great info you wouldn’t want to miss!
Wine Cellar Design and Wine Protection; Tips from Experts
April 24, 2023
Maria Jose Meneses
Wine collecting has been a popular pastime for centuries, but it has become increasingly popular over the years. One of the reasons is the rise of wine appreciation and culture, which has made wine more accessible to the general public. As people become more knowledgeable about wine, they also become more interested in collecting it.
Another reason for the growing popularity of wine collecting is the investment potential of specific wines. Some rare and highly sought-after wines have been appreciated over the years, making them a desirable asset for collectors and investors.
In addition, the rise of e-commerce and online marketplaces has made it easier for wine collectors to buy and sell rare and unique wines worldwide. This has opened up new opportunities for collectors to acquire and showcase their prized bottles.
Overall, the increased interest in wine collecting reflects a growing appreciation for the art and science of winemaking and the unique experiences and enjoyment that wine can offer.
If you’re just starting out in wine collecting, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. However, there are many resources available to help you get started. Keep reading to learn some of the best tips from Wine experts to know where to start.
What are some key factors to consider when designing a glass wine cellar?
To refrigerate or not refrigerate?
This is a nonsensical question when it comes to a wine cellar. Cellar implies chilled, right?
As home cellars have grown in popularity recently, refrigeration has become less common. Many homeowners want the sexy look of a glass wine cellar, but not the extra cost of refrigeration and construction required. When it comes to glass-enclosed wine storage, expect the cost to more than double if you add climate control. It is not just the cost of the unit. You must also replace the drywall with a green board and add closed-cell foam insulation to the walls.
Making it pretty
Don’t ignore the opportunity to make this feature the home’s focal point. Integrate different materials into the space. Consider wood shelves for warmth and luxe chrome racking from Vintage View, and finish the interior walls with a stone or tile. Also, consider adding glass to both sides to create a ‘see-through’ wine feature that will wow every guest.
For homes without space for a dedicated wine room/cellar, enclosing the space above cabinetry or a console is also a great feature.
Where in the home should it go?
Wine features make great focal points right in the center of the home. Dining rooms are also a natural area to add a shallow ‘wine wall’ type cellar.
If you are adding refrigeration, a contractor will be able to tell you which spaces are viable to add ductwork. High-rise towers (without attic space) require creative solutions to house the refrigeration.
Avoid storing your wine in front of windows (a sommelier would cringe) as the UV rays are damaging to wine. This problem can be solved by adding a UV-resistant film to your exterior windows, or to the glass of the wine enclosure itself.
-Leslie Inniss at Builders Glass of Bonita
What role does humidity play in wine preservation, and what are some methods to control humidity levels in a wine storage area?
Humidity is one of the essential factors in wine preservation. The ideal humidity level for storing wine is between 50% and 70%. If the humidity is too low, the corks will dry out and shrink, allowing air to enter the bottle and spoil the wine. If the humidity is too high, mold and mildew can grow on the corks and labels.
Many methods exist to control humidity levels in a wine storage area, such as a humidifier or dehumidifier. These devices can be used to add or remove moisture from the air, respectively. Another method is to use a wine fridge, which should automatically set the proper humidity levels, in addition to the temperature.
If a fridge is out of the question, then there are a few things you can do to help control the humidity in your home. One is to avoid placing wine bottles near heat sources, such as radiators or fireplaces. Another is to avoid putting wine bottles in direct sunlight. Finally, you can use a wine storage bag or pillow to help regulate the humidity around your wine bottles.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your wine is adequately stored and preserved for years to come.
Here are some additional tips for storing wine:
Store wine bottles on their sides. This will help keep the cork moist and prevent it from drying out.
Keep wine bottles in a cool, dark place. Temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for storing wine.
Avoid storing wine in direct sunlight or near heat sources.
Do not store wine in a place that is too humid or too dry.
If you won’t drink your wine within a few months, consider investing in a wine storage cabinet or room.
-Jesse Schwartz at The Wine Scribes
How can wine cellar owners ensure that their collection is kept safe from external factors that can damage the wine?
Temperature Control: Maintaining a consistent temperature of 58°F in the wine cellar is essential. Wine requires specific temperature and humidity conditions to maintain its quality and flavor. Exposure to high temperatures can cause the wine to age prematurely, while low temperatures can slow down the aging process and alter the taste. To achieve this, wine cellar owners can install a cooling unit system that regulates the temperature level in the cellar.
Lighting and Light Exposure: Exposure to light can also damage wine by causing it to age prematurely and develop off-flavors. The ultraviolet rays in sunlight and artificial light sources can break down the organic compounds in wine, leading to undesirable changes in flavor, aroma, and color.
Dim lighting or LED lights can create a warm and inviting atmosphere while protecting the wine collection. Wine cellar owners can also invest in UV-filtering or tinted glass doors to minimize light exposure.
Humidity Control: High humidity can cause mold and mildew growth, whereas low humidity can dry out the corks, resulting in oxidation and spoilage.
To maintain the optimal humidity level of around 70%, owners can install a humidifier or dehumidifier in the cellar.
Vibration: Vibration can be particularly damaging to wine, disturbing the sediment and disrupting the aging process. To minimize vibration, wine cellar connoisseurs should choose a location away from vibration sources such as machinery, heavy foot traffic (for example, a staircase), or loud music.
Regular Inspections: Regular inspection and examination of the labels, corks, and wine itself for any changes or discoloration that may indicate a problem can help detect any issues before they become significant problems.
Materials: Insulation, flooring, walls, ceiling, and doors are all crucial factors in maintaining stable temperature and humidity levels and protecting the wine from light, vibration, and other external factors. Wine cellar walls should be thick enough to provide insulation and prevent temperature fluctuations. At the same time, solid wood or insulated glass doors are commonly used to keep wine safe from external elements. It is important to work with an experienced wine cellar builder and use quality materials to create the perfect environment for the wine collection to thrive.
When it comes to custom wine cellar design and installation, choosing a company with expertise and experience is important. Genuwine Cellars is a world leader in wine cellar installation services, with highly skilled installers and designers with a wealth of expertise and knowledge in creating ideal environments for wine storage. They work to ensure that every wine cellar is constructed to the highest standards and by individualized specifications, ensuring that your wine collection is protected and displayed to its utmost potential.
What are some best practices for protecting a wine cellar?
Protecting a wine cellar is essential to ensure your wine investment is kept safe and preserved for years. After all, not only have you made a substantial investment, but you’ll want to ensure that your wines are kept in the ideal environment so that when you have a unique (or not-so-special) occasion and pop that cork, you’ll pour a beautifully aged wine. Nothing is more disappointing than the expectation of drinking a fine wine you’ve cellared, only to discover it is off. This “wine fault” or “defect” is an unpleasant characteristic of a wine that can result from poor storage conditions.
Here are some best practices to consider:
Control temperature and humidity: Maintaining a constant temperature between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level between 50 and 70 percent is ideal for wine storage. Use a temperature and humidity control system to monitor and adjust the environment inside the cellar.
Use appropriate lighting: Light can damage wine by causing premature aging or oxidization. Use low-level or UV-filtered lighting inside the cellar to prevent this.
Install a security system: Protect your wine cellar with an alarm system, security cameras, and secure locks. Make sure that only authorized individuals have access to the cellar.
Choose appropriate shelving and racks: Use sturdy and well-constructed shelves and racks to store your wine bottles. Avoid using wire racks, as they can scratch or damage wine labels.
Organize your collection: Organize your wine collection by type, region, or vintage to make it easier to find and manage your inventory. Use a wine management system to track your wines and their location within the cellar.
Regularly inspect and maintain: Inspect your cellar regularly for signs of damage, leaks, or pests. Maintain proper cleaning practices to prevent the buildup of mold or other harmful contaminants.
By following these best practices, you can ensure that your wine cellar is appropriately protected and maintained, preserving the quality of your wine collection for years to come.
-Lauren Lekai at Paso Robles Wineries
How does the design of a wine cellar impact the preservation of wine?
Designing and building a wine cellar is a great way for homeowners to protect and preserve their wine collection. Here are some tips on how to create the best possible wine cellar:
Choose the right location: The location of your wine cellar is important, as it will affect the temperature and humidity levels. Ideally, a wine cellar should be located in a cool, dark, and dry space, away from any sources of heat or light. Basements are often a good location for a wine cellar, as they tend to be naturally cooler than other parts of the house.
Install a cooling system: A wine cellar must be kept at a consistent temperature, typically between 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit, with a humidity level around 70 percent. To achieve this, you’ll need to install a cooling system. There are a variety of cooling systems available, including self-contained units, split systems, and ducted systems. A professional can help you determine the best cooling system for your specific needs.
Choose the right racking system: Wine racks are an important part of a wine cellar, as they provide a way to store and organize your wine collection. There are many different types of wine racks available, including wood, metal, and acrylic. It’s important to choose a rack that is sturdy and able to support the weight of your wine bottles. You may also want to consider a modular system that can be easily expanded as your collection grows.
Protect against vibration: Vibrations can disrupt the aging process of wine, so it’s important to minimize any vibrations in your wine cellar. Avoid installing your wine cellar near any sources of vibration, such as a washing machine or dryer. You may also want to consider adding vibration-dampening materials to your cellar.
Consider security: If you have a valuable wine collection, it’s important to take steps to protect it from theft. This may include installing a lock on your wine cellar door or investing in a security system that monitors the cellar.
By following these tips, homeowners can design and build a wine cellar that will protect and preserve their wine collection for years to come.
-David Parker at Benchmark Wine Group
What is the ideal temperature for storing wine, and how can it be maintained consistently?
The industry standard for cellaring wine is around 12 – 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) though it is not always possible to keep to that rigorous standard. Your wines will not be at risk if you allow the temperature to rise to 15C (59F) or if the mercury drops to 10C (50F). But fluctuations must be as gradual as possible. The yo-yo effect of sudden temperature changes will accelerate evaporation and prematurely age your wines. Dramatic fluctuations in temperature can damage your wines permanently. Lower temperatures will slow chemical changes, while higher ones will speed them up (remember your high school chemistry).
The University of California at Davis conducted experiments to determine how heat affects wine. The researchers concluded that with each increase in temperature of 10 degrees Celsius (18F), the rate of chemical change doubled. So if the ambient temperature of your kitchen is, say, 22.8C (73F) while you’re cooking (or in a restaurant dining room in winter), the wine stored there will age twice as fast as the bottles resting in your cellar at 12.8C (55F).
Monitor your storage space with a temperature gauge to ensure consistency of ambient temperature.
I have kept all my wine cellars at a relative humidity of approximately 70 percent. This level is sufficient to ensure that the corks will not dry out from the top and that the labels will not start to peel off. Above 80 percent humidity, there is a danger of mold beginning to form. An inexpensive way to create humidity is to have a bucket of water next to your wine rack.
Make sure your wine storage area is dark – bright light can prematurely age your wine – and ensure the site is free from smells (paint cans, detergents, and other chemicals), as these can, over the long haul, affect the flavor of the wine.
Tony Aspler at Tony Aspler, the Wine Guy
What are the most important factors to consider when storing and preserving wines, and how can they be maintained optimally?
There are many factors to consider; however, the main ones are temperature, light, and humidity. Other factors include how the bottle is stored and to avoid vibrations or movements. Let’s start with the main elements:
Temperature: The ideal temperature for storing wine lies between 10-13°C, so best to avoid places near hot pipes, radiators, or anywhere with temperature fluctuations. Temperature fluctuations can destroy the wine. For serious wine lovers, the easiest solution is to get a wine cooler. Hence, the kitchen is the worst place in the house to store wine other than for a few days.
Light: Protect your wines from sunlight, which is why good wine always comes in a dark bottle. Light is as damaging to the wine as fluctuating temperatures. This is because the light is, basically, heat.
Humidity: Store your wine at the proper moisture. If you are a serious wine lover and thinking of getting a wine cooler, the wine cooler will allow setting the humidity level. Humidity is necessary when it comes to preventing the cork from dehydrating; a dry cork can speed up the aging process and eventually lead to the oxidization of the wine. This is especially important when storing wine for several years. Bottles using screwcaps don’t need to be stored horizontally.
How to store the bottle: When storing wine in a wine cooler or a wine rack, you should always ensure that the bottles are positioned horizontally. This aims to keep the cork nice and moist, prevent it from drying out, and speed up the aging process, as illustrated above.
Don’t move it: Movement stresses the wine. Even if you are proud of your wine collection, don’t constantly touch or show them to your friends. Avoid storing your wine near vibrating appliances, from the washing machine to tumble dryers.
-Andrea D’Ercole at Italyabroad.com
By following the previous advice, you can gain valuable insights and knowledge to help you start collecting wine and build a successful wine cellar. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting out, this article’s expert tips and advice can help you take your wine collection to the next level.