Guide to Wine Cellars

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When starting a wine cellar, there are a few things to keep in mind to be sure of your success. This page will help you along your way, with links to helpful topics in the Snooth forum, articles about wine cellars, and links to other resources around the web about cellaring wine.

Although there's no exact science to planning and starting your own wine cellar, here are some helpful guidelines to consider.

Build your wine cellar with wines for drinking, not just wines for aging. If you're too serious about enforcing a strict door policy with your cellar, you may end up wasting time worrying if a wine is "cellar worthy" instead of simply enjoying it.

A little bit of knowledge goes a long way, especially with the wines you've chosen to care for in your cellar. Learn about their regions, varietals, wineries, and the growing conditions of the years they were made produced. Before long, you'll notice relationships between these variables that result in characteristics you'll like - and dislike - of your wines, and will ultimately help you improve the quality and your enjoyment of the wines in your collection.

Perhaps the most basic - and overlooked - aspect of starting a cellar is budgeting enough space. The rule of thumb is to think generously about how much space you'll need, then double it. There's nothing worse than passing up a bargain on an age-worthy case because of a lack of storage - or worse - letting good wines languish in a hastily conceived cellar.

So without further ado, here's Snooth's guide to starting a wine cellar.

Choosing a suitable cellar location

    Conversations about choosing a suitable cellar location from the Snooth Forums

  • Wine storage in NYC

    After reading about Greg's cellar of dreams, I got hit with the bug to put a little wine away for later. It's funny, too because only a... Read Topic »

    Posted on Jan 19, 2011 by markmark

  • Temp or Humidity

    These last few weeks in NYC have been a roller coaster ride for my passive wine cellar. Usually the coldest it gets is about 49 degrees... Read Topic »

    Posted on Jan 29, 2009 by Eric GuidoEric Guido

A wine cellar doesn't have to be situated in an elaborate underground structure. In fact, it doesn't have to be a cellar at all. Today there are countless manufacturers of refrigeration cabinets (linked to below) that can hold anywhere between 1 and thousands of bottles in climate controlled conditions ideal for storing wine. You can also fine - or create - parts of your home that have ideal conditions for wine cellaring. So what are those conditions?

When choosing a location for your wine collection, a stable environment is key. Places free from vibrations, light, and variations in temperature and humidity are best suited for your cellar.

Average temperatures lower than the recommended 50-59° F (10°C – 15°C) range could damage the integrity of the wine's container, while higher temperatures speed up the rate at which a wine matures. Avoid fluctuations in temperature as well, as these changes subtly effect a wine's structure and could build up over time.

Humidity is another important factor to consider when starting a cellar. The perfect humidity is 70%, although ranges between 50% and 80% will also work. Understand that higher humidity can increase the risk of cork rot, while low humidity might coax wines out of their bottles if they have defective corks - which is a guaranteed way to spoil a wine.

It's also important to store wine laying on its side, so the wine is in contact with the cork. This keeps the cork moist, and along with balanced humidity helps ensure a wine's longevity.

Since light can also speed up a wine's aging process, darkness is a crucial component of a wine cellar. The more light that's present, the more it breaks down the organic compounds, flavors, aromas, and structure of a wine - making it flat and lifeless. So choosing a dark location is vital for starting your wine cellar.

Articles about choosing a suitable cellar location

  • Cellar Temperature

    Last week I began to take a look at cellar conditions -- the good, the bad, and the misinformed. I had written that article to include all the variables but after covering light, vibration, and humidty, the added content on temperature, and the effect it has on corks, it proved to be simply too long to include... View Article »

Helpful links

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Choosing wines for your cellar

When you're choosing the wines that will go in your cellar, it's important to find wines that will age well when stored. Many wines are meant to be opened in the year they were produced, but some of the world's finest wines are ageworthy wines that will continue to improve under the proper conditions for 5, 10, 20, and sometimes 50 years or more.

Articles about choosing wines for your cellar

  • From the Cellar - Beaujolais

    From the Cellar - BeaujolaisWeird title right?Who pulls Beaujolais from the cellar you might ask. Well I do but I can't say I'm a leader in that field. In fact several of my friends have rather varied assortments of Beaujolais resting in the deep recesses... View Article »
  • 1989 Barolo - 20 Years Later

    1989, it's simply one of the best vintages ever in Piemonte. Now that’s a pretty bold statement, but when you take a look at other vintages, maybe it’s not so bold after all. While we have been getting used to every vintage being great in Piedmont, save maybe one a decade, this is a very recent development. View Article »
  • Beaujolais - For Today and Tomorrow

    The affordable (cheap even) Beaujolais is age worthy and delicious - and it's the perfect addition to any cellar View Article »
  • California Syrah

    For a brief moment Syrah was to be California's "next big thing". Pinot Noir, easier to understand and fruitier, grabbed the spotlight and refused to let go, leaving Syrah waiting in the wings. View Article »

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Buying the racks for your wine cellar

When you are building a wine cellar, the racks are important. They will age alongside your wine, and so they must be sturdy and well made in order to stand up to time. There are many companies out there making quality racks that are perfect for holding your bottles, and displaying them. After all, you should enjoy viewing your bottles.

Articles about buying the racks for your wine cellar

  • Wine Cellar Racks

    The final, stage to building a cellar is selecting your racking. I wish I had a great squealing brakes sound effect here followed by noise in rewind since we should go back to the beginning here. You’ll want to choose your racking before you lay out your walls so that everything fits! Leave a bit of wiggle... View Article »

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Cellar management

Once you have begun to collect wine, it will become important to be able to find your wine in your cellar. At first it will be easy to keep track, but eventually it will become increasingly necessary to use tools to keep track of where you bought your wine and at what price, the location of the bottle in your cellar, and a potential good date to open it.

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Building a wine cellar

Converting unused cellar space or a spare room into a wine cellar is a dream that many wine lovers have. While such a conversion might be either an easy DIY job, or a major undertaking, any wine cellar project begins with the same set of questions. How much wine will I be storing? Will my storage space be able to maintain adequate conditions? And of course, Am I really ready to do this?

We've taken the time to run through the major details of building a wine cellar so that you can see if in fact you're ready to make your dream come true!

Articles about building a wine cellar

  • Building Wine Cellar Walls

    When it comes to building a wine cellar there are basically two choices. You can either repurpose an existing room or section off some space inside of it. Either option will require work on the walls. In order to build a proper cellar the walls need to be insulated and have a vapor barrier installed. Sound like... View Article »
  • How to Build a Wine Cellar

    We all love the idea of having a dedicated cellar, a distinct shrine, er, room to store our treasured bottles. So, what does it really take to convert part of one’s basement, or any room for that matter, into a real wine cellar? View Article »

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