Don’t Play Tetrus with Your Petrus
Discussing wine storage capacity in terms of “standard” high-shouldered Bordeaux bottles is handy from a comparative standpoint, but fails to acknowledge the Burgundy, Rhône, and Champagne freaks among us—not to mention our tall Riesling, 500 ml Tokaji, and squat Turley Zinfandel and vin jaune bottles. Even the most committed Bordeaux drinker likely has celebratory magnums or jewel-like half-bottles of Sauternes.
Furthermore, bottle styles are just guidelines; the actual measurements of “standard” Bordeaux (or Burgundy, Riesling, Champagne, etc.) bottles can vary enough from one another to foil some storage configurations.
Virtually no wine lovers have just one bottle size or shape in their collection, yet many basic racks and entry level wine refrigerators are geared towards that Bordeaux bottle size, leaving customers to devise Tetris-like solutions. And it’s not just a pesky organizational headache; proper bottle arrangement insures uniform air circulation to maintain even temperatures and avoid condensation, while haphazard arrangement can damage labels and even cause breakage.
Part of assessing your storage needs should include a breakdown of your current and anticipated bottle shapes and sizes, noting both width and height. Whether you plan to organize your collection by region, grape variety, color and type, brand, or price, take into account how bottle shape might affect your storage requirements for each category.
Fortunately, there are many solutions. For cellars, custom wine racks can come single or double deep, with spacing for bottles of all types. Diamond bins and diamond cubes are popular for their convenience in holding various bottle types securely and maximizing capacity. Most wine refrigerator shelving will accommodate a range of bottle shapes and sizes, but note that capacities are based on Bordeaux bottles, and not all bottles will fit comfortably or efficiently on all shelves (another reason to plan for more capacity than you might think). EuroCave’s fully adjustable Main du Sommelier Rolling Shelves feature movable “hands” that act as cradles to protect bottles of all sizes and maximize shelf capacity. In many cabinets and refrigerators, removing shelves can both accommodate wider bottles and increase capacity by creating more “stacking” space.
Don’t let perceived storage limitations stop you from buying those statuesque Riesling magnums, or from bringing back a Bavarian Bacchus in a bodacious Bocksbeutel. Set your own “standard”!