During my career in wine, I have visited many wine cellars and have seen it all: beautiful, perfectly constructed, easy to use cellars to impractical, difficult, ugly cellars. When you’re thinking about your new cellar, here are a few considerations.
- Size. The most common mistake I see when it comes to cellar design is also the most obvious one: size. While everyone has space constraints, do whatever you can to make your cellar bigger than you think you will ever need. Because if you're interested in wine now, you're going to be interested in it tomorrow too. Trust me, you'll need the space.
- Access. This is a mundane one, but do whatever you can do to ensure that access to and from your storage is easy. That means: as few steps as possible; doorways that are full height; an elevator if possible and wide walkways inside so it's easy to move around. Small, cramped, stuffed wine cellars seem romantic - until you start avoiding going in because it's quite literally painful to do so.
- Different types of storage within the cellar. Loose bottles should be stored in racks. But wines purchased in wooden or other cases should be left in those original cases. Cases are easy to stack, and if you ever re-sell the wines, original cases retain their value better than loose bottles. So make sure to dedicate some part of your space to case storage - not just bottle storage.
- More than one storage area. Even if your cellar is at home, almost all collectors have a day to day form of storage immediately at hand in the kitchen - usually a wine fridge. Grab and go bottles make life much easier than running to the cellar a few times a day during holidays and other busy periods. If you really want to keep your hands off your wines until they've aged further, using professional, off-site storage means more space in your home cellar for ready to drink wines.
- Temperature and humidity control. The best looking cellar in the world is useless unless the climate is properly regulated. I prefer storing wine (red, white, sparkling - it's all the same) around 55 degrees, and at around 70% humidity.
About the Author
Nick Jackson MW is one of the US's 53 Masters of Wine, the highest qualification in wine. Nick lives in New York and advises private clients on building and managing wine collections, through his business, Vintage Variation LLC.