For people wanting to build the best wine cellar possible, there are certain crucial, ‘must-have’ conditions to keep in mind if your wine cellar is to operate at its best.
Temperature control is debatably the most important aspect in setting up a wine cellar. The most desirable temperature for long-term wine storage is between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius. However, it is crucial that the temperature is always constant. A gradual shift in temperature (e.g. between seasons) is acceptable, but any major temperature shifts throughout the course of a day or two may considerably cause harm to your wine collection. Warmer temperatures will accelerate the aging process, and frequent temperature changes will ruin the condition of the cork as it constantly expands and contracts.
The best location for a wine cellar is underground. Underground wine storage typically guarantees a more constant temperature, which is optimal for maintaining high quality.
Then again, not everybody has the luxury of being able to build underground to create a cellar. Above ground solutions include things like renovating a powder room, storage room, old larder or under the staircase into your very own wine storage system. Avoid outside walls and instead choose a location that is in the middle of the house. This facilitates better temperature control of your wines.
The best humidity levels for a wine cellar are between 50% – 75%, with 70% being the most effective humidity level. Determining the perfect balance will ensure that the cork is protected against shrinkage and mildew, and labels are safe from decay.
The wine storage area must be free from all physical disturbance and vibration. Constant vibration from heavy machinery, noise, nearby highways or train lines, etc. will agitate the sediment in the bottle, having an undesirable effect on the flavor and quality of the wine over the years. Wine must be allowed to rest and age peacefully if a remarkable quality is the objective.
The best lighting conditions for a wine cellar are darkness or subdued light. Lighting will make or break a photographer’s perfect shot; inappropriate lighting will also mess up a perfect bottle of wine. Protecting the wines in your cellar from ultraviolet light protects the condition and quality. No matter if it is natural sunlight or light from light fittings, care should be taken to make sure that the exposure of the wines to direct light is appropriately controlled. If there is excessive light, the wine will mature much faster and may potentially spoil your wine collection.
Sparkling wines demand even more care simply because of their higher sensitivity to light as compared to other wines.
Suitable ventilation is essential to reduce odours and bad smells in the storage area, otherwise the wine will soak up smells from the cellar through the cork, damaging a perfect bottle.
Take good care of your wine cellar and it will take care of you. Developing the perfect wine cellar is a big investment; but it is an investment that will reap significant rewards as time goes on.
Are you looking into building your own wine cellar? Do not compromise on these ‘must-have’ conditions! They are the only safeguards you will have to protect the quality of your stored wines and your investment.