How and why to build a wine cellar? Wines can be stored in cellars or racks. Herebelow are the proper conditions.
A wine closet
Look around your home for a dark, quiet place with a constant temperature and no vibration. If you choose a closet, it is preferable to choose one that is on a north wall. A North wall rarely receives direct sunlight, thus the heating of the storage space in the summer is reduced.
Such a wine closet may ruin a few bottles after some months of storage.
You can also purchase one of the wine cooler cabinets that are on the market.
Building a wine cellar
To establish your collection in the basement, find a location that is far away from any heat source, vibration (subway) or strong odours (like fuel). Insulation and humidity are primary considerations for custom wine cellar design.
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The drier the cave, the faster the corks will dry out. If the stopper lets too much air pass, it will ultimately spoil the wine. Aging wines for ten years requires a minimum of 60 percent humidity.
Bottles must be stored on their sides to keep the corks moist. You have three solutions :
- You build a few shelves yourself;
- You take advantage of the many professional companies that design wine racks to suit any space;
- You go to your hardware store and purchase square clay pipes (used for chimneys) and build instant racks with them. Stackable and cheap!
In any case you can plan for the design of these racks.
Wine storage temperatures
Temperature variations must very gradual over the course of the day. This is a priority which imposes that the cellar be insulated.
A big red wine may pass a summer at 25°C (77°F) highest but this is bad aging conditions.
The ambient temperature for your cellar can be anything between 50°F and 60°F (between 10°C and 15°C). This is ideal for long-term aging for all types of wines.
Note that wine generally matures better and more slowly at the lower temperatures than it does at the higher temperatures.
Residential wine cellars can be maintained at the proper temperature actively or passively. Actively cooled wine cellars are highly insulated and need to be properly constructed. Active cooling utilizes specific wine storage conditioning and cooling systems to maintain the desired temperature and humidity. Many cooling systems only control the temperature and not the humidity in which case you must check the humidity yourself.
Passively cooled wine cellars take advantage of naturally cool and damp areas (such as basements with uninsulated outside walls in cool or temperate climates). This implies that you tolerate minor seasonal and diurnal temperature variations. Passive wine cellars may be less predictable, but cost nothing to operate and are not affected by power outages.