Innovative Wine Storage Design
If, like many of our clients at Extreme Design, you are a real wine aficionado, then you know the importance of having the correct wine storage. Whether you intend to simply keep a bottle at its best for a few months, or are seeking to age a fine vintage for 25 years, wine storage design is not to be overlooked.
Modern technology means that there are wine storage solutions available for all homes, no matter the size or layout. From the smallest built in wine fridges, to contemporary, purpose built cellars large enough to hold thousands of bottles, this article will give you all the information you will need when designing your own wine storage.
When considering your home wine storage and drawing up designs, remember these three golden rules of wine collecting:
- The temperature is always consistent (ideally from 10˚ to 13˚ centigrade).
- Bottles are exposed to as little bright light as possible, whether natural or artificial.
- Wine is laid on its side and subjected to as little movement and vibration as possible.
Keeping this in mind, you can begin to design the perfect storage for your wine collection.
Any wine lover will tell you that heat is the greatest enemy of their collection. When your wine is stored at temperatures exceeding 13˚ for too long, you may find that the tastes and aromas become flat over time. However, when kept too cool in a standard refrigerator, the lack of moisture will cause the cork to dry up, seeing air enter the bottle and ruining the nuanced flavours of the wine.
More important than exact temperature, however, is consistency. It is here that dedicated wine storage comes into play. While a cool, dark room is perfectly fine when it comes to short term storage, if you intend to age your wine for multiple years, you will almost certainly need a dedicated storage area. Cellar conditioning units ensure that your wine is kept at a consistent temperature and humidity of 65-75%, perfect for aging and avoiding any expansion or contraction of the liquid or cork that could ruin your wine.
Next to drastic heat changes, nothing can negatively affect the quality of your wine more than sunlight. Any bright lights, though especially the intense UV rays of sunlight, can age your wine too quickly, leading to very poor quality flavours and aromas. Keeping your wine in darkness is especially important for bottles with lighter glass, as there’s a lot less protection against the UV rays. Of course, direct light can also heat up your wine bottles and, as we’ve discussed, that can only have a negative impact on your prized collection.
Wine experts agree that the best way to store your bottles is by lying them on their side. This ensures that the cork won’t dry out, meaning that the bottle will remain entirely sealed off from any outside air that could damage the quality of your wine. Furthermore, horizontal storage is the most space efficient way to store your wine, allowing you to grow your collection to new heights.
Once you’ve laid your bottles on their side for storage, make sure that they’re not subjected to too much movement. Even small vibrations can cause the chemicals within the wine to break down too quickly, speeding up aging and disrupting the flavours and aromas. Some collectors worry about the vibrations caused by electrical appliances – they may be subtle but they can be felt. Moreover, strong vibrations could disrupt any sediment in the wine, leaving the bottle with a distinctly gritty mouthfeel.
Following the above directions almost guarantees you high-quality, well-aged wine, but aging champagne can feel like an entirely different art form at times. Although the majority of the rules for aging other wines still apply to champagne – especially those concerning light and temperature – there is debate as to whether sparkling wines should be stored lying on their side or standing up. The theory is that the CO2 and subsequent pressure within the champagne will stop the cork from drying out, thus preventing any air from damaging the wine.
Though this may be the case when simply keeping champagne for a few months, if you decide to age a fine, vintage cuvée, we believe that you should store it like any other wine. Furthermore, when aging Champagne, it is best to only age larger bottles. Half bottles age far too quickly and erratically to benefit from maturation. Standard 75cl bottles will reach their peak within around 10 years. Vintage magnums, on the other hand, are suitable for long term aging of up to approximately 30 years; acquiring deep complexities as the originally light and fruity aromas make way for deeper, nutty and toasty notes on the nose.
WINE STORAGE OPTIONS
Once you understand the best conditions in which to store your wine, it’s time to begin thinking about your storage options. Depending on a number of factors, including budget, available space and the size of your wine collection, you will find that there are a number of potential options for professional wine storage design in your home.
Cellar or wine room
For the serious collector, only a home wine cellar or wine room will provide the exact conditions for the storage of your wine. Prices vary depending on size and style from £30,000 to £1,000,000 and over for a larger top-quality purpose-built wine room. They are certainly not within everyone’s budget, however if you consider yourself a true lover of wine, nothing else will do.
Fully bespoke, this type of storage is designed around you. Make the most of low lighting, as many horizontal bottle racks as you require and cellar climate control working to maintain the conditions needed for optimum maturation, a dedicated cellar gives you an unrivalled method for aging your wine. Companies offering these kinds of installations, such as Cellar Maison, often offer a fully bespoke experience, from planning, to installation and beyond – giving you the ultimate wine storing experience.
At a more middling price point of £23,000-£69,000, smaller Spiral Cellars may be an alternative for the more economical wine collector. As they take up only a small amount of space and can be installed anywhere in the ground floor of your home, they are ideal for those unwilling or unable to dedicate the kind of space required for an entire wine room. Furthermore, as these cellars can comfortably hold nearly 2,000 bottles of wine, their capacity is likely to be suitable for all but the most avid collectors.
Wine walls from Cellar Maison with prices between £25,000 and £60,000 are a relatively new and innovative way to store 200 – 1,000 bottles without the requirement of a dedicated walk-in room. These wine walls can be as little as 500-600mm in depth. Fully temperature and humidity controlled with the visual impact of a full width glazed front with UV protection (if required), they are perfect for entertaining areas.
The other advantage is that wine tasting evenings can finally be experienced in a cosy warm living space, rather than in a wine room of 13 degrees. Wine dividing walls are another option having glass on two sides to create a room divider/wine showcase combination.
Built-in and free-standing storage
With prices starting at under £1,000, smaller, built-in wine storage units are ideal for the novice collector. The modern designs of these small units that, due to their size, often hold no more than 50 bottles allow them to seamlessly fit in with your kitchen. Although they may not have the air conditioning capabilities of purpose built cellars, wine units of this size are still able to effectively store and age smaller quantities of wine.
For those with more room to spare, or who wish to display their collection more prominently, a free standing wine unit may be preferable. Unlike the other storage options on this list, these units are usually incredibly simple to install. Usually free standing units simply require you to plug them into a power socket and stock them up with your favourite vintages.
For information on working your wine collection into a kitchen that is uniquely you, get in touch with the Extreme Design team for a truly bespoke kitchen design service.