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Wine Cellars are Coming Out of the Closet

Wine cellars in all sizes and styles are gaining popularity for both ready-to-drink and vintage-loving aficionados.

Private wine cellars in the home are making a surprising leap from bottles stacked in the bottom of a closet or in a basement rack. People appreciate the ability to store and serve a good, aged wine that is lovingly cared for in the confines of a personal cellar. In fact, folks of all ages are gaining a fondness for aging favorite bottles that they can treasure in a few years. Even those vinos that are appreciated for near-immediate consumption should be properly cared for

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In upscale homes, wine cellars are becoming a must-have, and may even soon surpass the requests for home theater systems or swimming pools. Architects are offering them as an option for new builds and many contractors can provide a specialty space in existing homes. From small to large, wine cellars raise the appreciation bar for a fine vintage. They can also enhance the value of a home when it goes on the market. In fact, some may prefer a wine cellar over a swimming pool, due to maintenance issues and personal preference.

They're also perfect for storing those ready-to-drink bottles for a few weeks, whether it's a sparkling wine or a rose. When considering the addition of a cellar, several factors come into play:
-humidity
-insulation
-lighting
-temperature
-vapor barrier
-ventilation.

These are all critical to perfect storage. The environment must be carefully controlled to keep corks moist and the surrounding area from becoming one large breeding ground for mold and mildew. On the other hand, if humidity is too low, wine will age too quickly as the corks contract and your favorite beverage can take on a decidedly unpleasant taste.

Choice of Wine Racks

Many cellars consist of redwood racks and this is due to the wood's ability to resist rotting and mildew development. It's a soft wood, however, and will begin to show dinging if abused.

Mahogany is a hardwood that is also beautiful. It's resistant to moisture damage and won't suffer from nicks and dings.

Size and Cost

Costs will vary among regions and contractors. Of course, size and amenities will also dictate that price. You can convert a closet or a corner of the basement, as long as you outfit it with a cooling system and corrective barriers for steady control of temperatures. That's why it's unwise to store bottles in an open basement or the bottom of a closet. Even though those areas are generally cool, they cannot be humidity controlled. Temperature still fluctuates and these are two very important factors in enjoying good-tasting wine in a few months or a few years.

Research and speaking with wine experts will help you understand the variances and critical points of protecting wines. You'll find some argument as to humidity levels with suggestions ranging from 50% to as much as 75%. Your ultimate goal is to keep temperatures just cool enough to slow the chemical effects of aging so that tannins soften and other flavors come out. Humidity prevents oxidation, which can turn a beautiful wine into that well-known nasty vinegar concoction.

The very smallest cellars can be built starting at approximately $3,000 if you're a knowledgeable do-it-yourselfer. Of course, prices go up from there, starting at around $10,000 and going up to $100,000 or more.

Freestanding coolers and cabinets have come down drastically in price. Next up, we'll talk about the differences and benefits of each.

Go to: Freestanding and Under-Counter Units

 

 

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