The Wall Street Journal wine writer Lettie Teague starts a recent column with “there are people for whom the wine cellar is every bit as important as the wine. The cellars of such people tend to be carpeted, mirrored and lit by chandeliers. They may also be accessorized with Old Master paintings, Roman statues and Cristal Jeroboam souvenirs. Wine in these cellars isn’t so much consumed as it is revered.”
She goes onto say that she is not one of these people and writes an entertaining and informative column about where individuals store their wine. Her reference is the American wine lover but the way she goes about deciding what to do and the option she explores are universal.
Here is a brief over of the five storage options she considered in her own words:
Natural wine cellar – A natural or “passive” cellar is an underground cellar—generally with a dirt or stone floor, a naturally cool, nonfluctuating temperature and fairly high humidity.
Custom wine cellar – A custom-built cellar is also called an “active” cellar. It’s one that’s constructed and insulated and maintained by a special cooling system (this is key). Custom cellars are ideally located in a basement (temperatures fluctuate less there), though they can be built anywhere.
Wine refrigerator – They come in a wide range of sizes and finishes, with options like dual temperature controls, rolling wine racks and interior lights, but the most important feature is reliability. Some manufacturers make better refrigerators than others but the general rule of thumb seems to be that you get what you pay for.
Off-site storage – The rise in the number of off-site (nonresident) storage options has increased almost directly in accordance with the rise in wine auction houses. It’s not cheap and it’s not convenient (the warehouses are often in industrial areas of cities) but if you purchase wine as an investment, professional storage is a must.
The pantry, coat closet or kitchen cabinet – These are the unsanctioned spaces that most people probably use to store their wine. Needless to say, they are less than ideal for long-term storage, since elevated and fluctuating temperatures are always a problem. These spaces are best for keeping a small supply of wines a short time.