Wine is probably the most distinguished beverage in our culture. Knowledge of fine wines is always a mark of refinement and class. With that knowledge often comes a desire to collect beloved bottles. Wine lovers love to share their wine with guests and fellow oenophiles, so they need a good space in which to organize, rack, and store their beloved bottles. That space needs to maintain a regular temperature, generally on the cool side, and remain darker than most rooms. The basement is the perfect choice for wine storage.
Practical Considerations to Think About
Before you start creating a wine cellar, consider how much space you want to allocate to wine. Some collectors have hundreds of bottles, so their cellars can take up the entire basement of a typical house. Others may have a more modest, but highly select, collection and need less space. A modest wine collection can be stored in a special fridge beneath a staircase, for instance.
Temperature and Humidity Requirements
To make sure the wine maintains and develops its delicate characteristics, and ages without becoming vinegar, wine cellars need to maintain optimal, and consistent temperatures and humidity. There are many small cooling units available that can maintain the cellar at the desired temperature, but there are also full ducted units that can be installed to maintain large wine collections.
The cooling unit should be helpful in maintaining humidity, but serious wine collectors will want a system to monitor and control the humidity. When humidity gets too high, mold may form in the cork, creating a dangerous situation for the wine in those bottles. Low humidity creates its own problems, in that the dry air might cause corks to dry out, allowing too much air to the wine inside and creating vinegar. There are dehumidifying units that can be installed, but wine lovers will also want a room that is well insulated, including a vapor barrier.
Design and Aesthetics Make It Something Special
Consider items like a butcher-block table where the party can sit comfortably and quaff the finest grapes. Others may prefer a contemporary design, complete with a granite-top bar and small, hanging LED lights for subtle lighting.When it comes to designing the look and feel of the wine cellar, there are many, many options. Some collectors turn their cellars into wine tasting rooms, where guests can sit among the bottles and taste a choice bottle.
Wine racks are rather grid-like, uniform items that line the walls of the cellar. The two basic types are classic, wooden racks and more modern metal racks. The look of the racks will determine much of the aesthetics of the wine cellar, as the central focus in the room is the wine.
However, some want to include a break in the grid to make room for a special case to house those most special bottles. Others may want to feature a painting or a decorative mirror to add an aesthetic flair to the room. If the room is intended for light entertaining, consider detailing it with some breaks in the wine display.
Separate the Basement from the Cellar or Case
Most cellars are about the size of a walk-in closet and don’t take up the entire basement. Others are even smaller and may be about the size of a large fireplace. For practical reasons, the wine collection will need to be offset from the rest of the space, while still being part of the basement. Glass French-style doors allow oenophiles to showcase their wine without compromising the climate needed to store it. With proper lighting, a wine cellar can be very striking behind glass doors.
For lighting, try to use cool LED lights rather than high-temp incandescent or halogen bulbs. The heat from the lights can interfere with the cellar’s primary function – storing wine at a set temperature. However, cellars can be well-lighted with the proper bulbs and positioning of the lights.
Contact a Certified Design Professional
A professional designer can help you with everything from the materials to the layout and leave you only to enjoy your wine cellar in peace! If you live in the Portland-metro area, contact L. Evans Design Group to help you transform a tired basement into an elegant wine cellar!