To some, the idea of a wine cellar is restricted to rich collectors who have centuries old bottles to store. But even if you have a few bottles of wine in your home collection, storing it properly is important.
It’s easy to become an accidental wine collector, particularly if you have an eye for a bargain. It just makes sense to buy a few bottles of a wine that’s on offer, for example. Or perhaps you pick up wines when on holiday because they’re not easily available at home. However you amassed your wine collection, don’t make the error of spoiling it by storing incorrectly.
How to store your home wine collection
To keep wines stored for a decent amount of time, it’s a good idea to have somewhere to store them that maintains a controlled temperature. Humidity levels are also key to storing wine without spoiling it. This is particularly important if you live somewhere humid and warm, where temperatures exceed 21 degrees Celsius for much of the year.
With record-breaking spells of hot weather in 2018, and more forecast for this year, this could include parts of the UK. Without somewhere that can store the wine at optimal temperature and humidity, you are in danger of spoiling some of your favourite bottles. Garages, cupboards or warm cellars are out.
Different types of wine cellar
You could have access to an underground cellar that is unheated and remains cool throughout the year. If you do, then you’re in luck. Check the temperature of your basement, cellar or garage and if it stays below 15.5 degrees Celsius with a humidity of over 75%, then you have what’s called a ‘passive wine cellar’. It’s named for the lack of action needed by you to turn it into a great storage area for wine. Just stash your bottles and leave them.
However, this usually only applies to deep underground cellars constructed with thick stone walls, which aren’t available to everyone. Most collectors set up a room that is cooled and humidified by technology to ensure their wine has somewhere safe to age.
Ideal conditions for a wine cellar
A decent wine cellar must stay cool and remain at a constant temperature. The ideal range is between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius, with no major temperature swings. The
storage area must also be humid, with an ideal humidity range of between 70% and 95%. Anything above 95% and you’re inviting mould into your storage area.
The storage area should be vibration-free. This means that any noise from outside, such as heavy traffic, or from nearby appliances, can damage your wine. It should also be dark, with no direct sunlight damaging the wine. Think of your collection as a fragile, expensive investment and ensure it’s in a properly insulated and climate-controlled space.