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Wine Storage: True or False?

Thursday, May 8th, 2008 at 12:31:32 PM
by Ken B., Wine Enthusiast Companies


As a Wine Cellar Specialist for the past 15 years, I’ve made many observations. In some ways wine storage has changed, and in others, it remains the same. See if you can pick out which of these wine storage statements is true and which is false. Some may be expected and others will be a big surprise!

Redwood Racking is Still the Best
TRUE. Redwood is easy to work with, sturdy and durable. Its naturally high mineral content protects it from moisture, mildew, mold etc, which are typical things you will encounter in the “cave” you are trying to create. It needs no treatment to protect it and it will accept stain and lacquer easily for enhanced looks. Redwood is sustainable and most is farmed in California. Over 90% of wine cellars use redwood.

Most Wine Cellars Need Cooling
TRUE. Very few cellars in the US will maintain ideal storage conditions without a little help. Wine likes a nice steady temp around 55 degrees F, (see Wine Storage Misconceptions). All wine will taste better when stored and served at the proper temperature. If you serve whites too cold or reds too warm they will not show their best. Just about any room can be properly conditioned providing you install insulation and a vapor barrier. Insulation keeps heat out (and cool in) while a vapor barrier keeps humidity in (and excess humidity out). Ideal humidity, to keep corks from drying out, is between 50-70%. In dry areas such as the mountains or desert, humidity will need to be added. In most other areas, humidity can be maintained with a proper wine cellar cooling unit.

Wine Storage Under the Stairs is Recommended
FALSE. While this is tempting and can be done, I prefer almost any other room in the house. Under-stair areas are more difficult to prepare, cool and rack. Capacity is poor under stairways and every time someone goes up or down the stairs, your wine will feel it.

1000 Bottles is A Lot
FALSE. If you drank a bottle a day, your cellar would be empty in less than 3 years. You may not drink a bottle a day, but on weekends or when entertaining you will usually consume more. Most of your wine is not at its ideal drinking age, so you will have wines of different vintages approaching their ideal drinking window. Whatever size you choose to make your cellar (often dictated by your available space), you will fill it up. This has happened to me and I now have several free standing cabinets, full! If only I had built that wine room!

Wine Racks Have Changed, For the Better
TRUE. 15 years ago we had unfinished kit racks 72″ high & less than 9″ deep and custom racking 13.5″ deep and any height. Now we have Designer kit racks 13.5″ deep (the same as custom) and 72′ high with or without stain and most of the styles of the older custom racks. This facilitates a unique and interesting cellar at an affordable price. The custom racks now have evolved to the point where if you can dream it, we can build it. We will help you with the dreaming.

Wine Cellar Design Services Have Evolved

TRUE. In the beginning, simple pencil drawings or basic 2 dimensional black & white renderings were the norm. Now we can design your wine cellar in full 3-d color imaging, with a full color virtual tour and even a DVD movie! You can almost taste the wine! We now include flooring, raised panel ceilings, display lighting, hand painted artwork… you name it!

Good Wine is Expensive
FALSE. It’s true that first growth Bordeaux, Grand Cru Burgundy, California cult and super Tuscans command a premium price. But there is more excellent and affordable wine being produced from places unheard of a few years ago. California and Oregon are producing world class Pinot Noir at various price ranges while the quality of New Zealand Pinot gets better every year and at reasonable prices. Australia, once known primarily for inexpensive Chardonnay, now produces Shiraz rivaling top Rhone selections. South America, South Africa and Spain continue to improve, at bargain prices.

How do you store your wine? Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts.

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2 Responses to “Wine Storage: True or False?”

  1. Redwood is good,but seemed cost much on wood,How about using pine wood and stain to redwood color?

  2. If you choose to use pine for wine racks, be sure to seal the racks with a waterproof finish since Pine does not have a high mineral content like redwood. Unsealed pine would be subject to warping, mildew, mold etc if used in wine storage conditions. You can stain pine but that does not protect it. Be sure to use non aromatic stain and dry it thoroughly. So when you weigh the cost of staining and sealing pine it would cost more than redwood.

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