You would be hard pressed to find a home in the UK that doesn’t have a collection of wine for regular consumption — or even a collection being stored for prosperity. It therefore comes as no surprise that self builders and renovators are including wine rooms or cellars in their homes from the planning stage.
“Sales and enquiries have continued to grow year after year. Generally speaking we are finding that there are more vineyards producing wine in higher quantities and of a much better quality. Our customers are interested in the provenance of wine and are prepared to buy more, and need a place to store it.” Says Fiona Love, marketing director of Spiral Cellars.
We look at the various options for wine storage, and what you need to consider at design stage.
- Wine Rooms: If you have the available space in your home and a large enough collection a dedicated wine display room is a desirable addition.
- Wine Cellars: Where there is basement space to spare, a wine cellar is preferable, as it doesn’t eat into ground floor living space.
- Wine storage pod: If you don’t have a basement, a wine storage pod can be built into the ground of your home or garden without need for any major structural changes or planning permission.
- Cabinets or Galleries: A smaller collection, can be stored in a high-street or built-in unit.
Things to Consider
There are five factors that will have a direct effect on the quality of your stash and these must be factored into the design of your chosen storage solution.
- Red or White?
It is a myth that white wine needs to be stored at a colder temperature than red as they both age best at 8–12° However, white should be poured at around nine degrees Celsius — so pop it in a fridge or cooler to drop the temperature before serving. Commercial white wine don’t age very well, so unless you’ve bought something really special, you will only be storing your whites for a couple of years. Reds can last for 20 years longer in the right conditions.
An impressive wine room incorporated at basement level
The optimum temperature to store wine is (8–12°C) is the average subterranean temperature in the UK and, historically, this temperature was taken advantage of in the wine cellars below country estates and vineyards. Anything above this and the wine will experience some deterioration. The higher or lower the heat, the faster the decay.”Wine can cope with gradual changes in temperature of a few degrees,” says Fiona. “What you need to avoid is temperature spikes in either direction. That’s why cellars are perfect, as they maintain a fairly constant temperature all year round, with only minor, natural variations throughout the year.”
“The optimum humidity level for wine storage is 70 per cent,” according to Fiona. This makes sure the cork doesn’t become dry and cause premature oxidisation. It is worth noting that high humidity may cause mould to form on the bottles. This is very rarely a health risk, but could decrease the value of a collection if the mould damages labels.
Wine bottles are usually tinted to restrict the transmission of UV into wine. Amino acids within alcohol can be activated by waves of light over time, causing oxidisation and impairing flavour. It is best to store wine and other alcohol in a place with limited lighting, which is why cellars are most suited.
As wine ages, it naturally separates tannic acid and deposits it as sediment in the bottom of the bottle. Vibration causes the reintroduction of this sediment, prematurely maturing the wine and distorting flavour and aroma. Check the stability of the floors in the room you are using for storage and make sure racks are securely fitted to avoid wobbling.
How to Store Wine in Your Home
Even though the conditions of a wine room are very specific and the installation seems rather technical, there is no reason why you can’t build one yourself. If you already have a dedicated room or a segmented pantry, garage or basement then there a few preparations you need to make.
“The trend over the last five years is for cellars to be on show in the middle of the entertaining space. Our sales of glass doors have soared in the last two years and now 60 per cent of cellars have a glass door. Cellars are no longer tucked away in the dark recesses of the home — now they’re a statement,” continues Fiona.
Initially, you will need to install a vapour barrier; special sheets of insulation designed to make a room watertight and decrease the chance of condensation. Any additional insulation will help to maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level in your chosen space.
- Air Conditioning
This could range from having a simple air conditioner, heater and thermostat, to having a specific zone designated within your home heating system. In the UK, the average air temperature stays above 12°C for most of the year and drops significantly between November and February. It is vital to have both a heating and cooling unit linked to the same thermostat so that the temperature in the room can remain constant.
To control the humidity in the room you will need to buy a humidifier and hygrometer. A home humidifier will release water vapour into the air to regulate the humidity in your room, whilst a hygrometer will allow you to track the humidity levels. There are humidifier models on the market that will allow you to set a specific percentage of moisture in a room to the optimum 50 per cent.
You will now want to furnish your room with shelves deep enough to hold a bottle on its side. This is so that the wine is kept in contact with the cork, which will stay sufficiently swollen and stop air from getting in. All wine with a cork, still or sparkling, red, white or rose, needs to be stored in the same way.
Keep your wine storage away from rooms where you might have loud sound systems or anything that could cause vibration. If you are in London, it is also worth thinking about whether any subterranean storage runs near the underground. Even if you can’t physically feel the vibrations yourself, it may be having a negative affect on your wine.