Home & Garden: Create a personal wine cellar or storage area for your collection
A century or more ago, when many of today’s wine appreciation conventions were being established, wine drinkers rarely had access to refrigeration or to the luxury of central heating, which meant very little control over wine temperature. Wine, white or red, was consumed at the temperature at which it was stored. Serving a wine at “cellar temperature” was likely to mean something in the 50s; “room temperature” could be 65 degrees in foggy London and 85 degrees in sunny Provence.
SOURCE: Pamela Long, Wine Cellars & Storage of Colorado
Collecting wine to love and enjoy is a popular pastime, especially in Colorado’s Wine Country. Properly protecting the investment with a home wine cellar or storage area means your favorite wines will age and keep for years.
“Wine cellars don’t have to be in a basement,” Wine Cellars & Storage of Colorado regional manager Pamela Long said. “It can even be in one’s bedroom or on any floor of home.”
Long, who formerly worked in engineering and architecture, entered Colorado’s wine industry nine years ago. She calls her new career — designing in-home wine storage areas — “a match made in heaven” because she’s also a sommelier based out of Winter Park, Colo. Her job takes her all over the mountains and Western Slope.
“One of the great things about a home cellar is tripping across some long-lost bottle that turns out to be a real treat,” Long said. “You can lose track of your wine, but your wine won’t forget how it has been stored.”
HOW TO DO IT
When determining storage type for a customer’s home, consider the following factors: Amount of wine to be stored; materials; location; size of bottles to be stored; and desired cooling temperature(s).
According to Long, storage temperature is the most important factor because “warmer temperatures speed up a host of biochemical processes in grapes and wine, from the vineyard to the bottle … Humidity matters, too, more for your corks than for your wine. Something around 70-percent relative humidity is best; this moisture level prevents cork shrinkage, which can result in evaporation and oxidation.”
White and red wines are often stored at different temperatures, though Long said 58 degrees is an optimal temperature if both will be stored together.
Palisade’s Canyon Wine Cellars owner/winemaker Jay Christianson added that storing “wine in a cellar that swings temperature from 50-65 degrees throughout the year is far worse then keeping wine at a constant temperature within that range.”
Wine collectors must also decide whether their wine cellar or racking area will be purely functional or partially for display.
“Some people want to show it in a living area,” Long noted.
Other factors to consider include room design, shape, custom detailing, floor insulation and more.
“The largest project we’ve worked on was 1,500 square feet,” Long said. “ The smallest square footage is a simple wine refrigerator to put under a counter — 3 or 4 square feet.
And pricing? The sky is the limit when it comes to wine cellars. Folks should expect to spend at least $500 on up for the simplest refrigerator installation.
“It’s really hard to give base pricing because there are a lot of factors involved,” Long said. “Do you want stone on the wall? A special texture? Special details? An old cellar door put on, which would have to be air tight? Pricing depends on the type of product, materials used, and size.”
Wine Cellars & Storage of Colorado offers Colorado-made products, except for under-the-counter cooling units (which come from out of state).
“The biggest benefit of having a home wine cellar is both consistency and the ability to strike at the right time,” Christianson explained. “A great way to enjoy wine at its peak is to figure out when it is going to taste its best.”
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