Last week I ran through the ABCs of wine storage. Today, I'm going to jump ahead and assume that you've moved your wine out of the hall closet and into something a little cooler that, in all likelihood some 30-bottle wine fridge from Home Depot or Target that rattles and hums nearly as much as U2. Wine refrigerators certainly keep wines cold, but tend to have temperature swings as much as 15 degrees as the cooling system kicks on and off. Since proper cellaring requires steady temps, this doesn’t work for long-term aging. Of course, if you've got the room and are ready to graduate into an in-home wine cellar, there are so many options it can make your head spin. (If you don't have the room, I'll address that it another post soon.) At the moment, there are countless brands in nearly every price range on the market, but you get what you pay for. You want a cabinet to last. You want it to be sturdy, you want it to have enough room to house your growing collection and you want the temperature to be consistent. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but the cheapest units out there are usually just that, cheap, and they're typically not going to work out for long term storage. Here are some options to help you make sure your collection (and investment) is kept safe and drinkable.
For the Aficionado:
I'm not going to lie. Taking wine storage seriously isn't inexpensive, but then again, neither is replacing all of your wine. There are some great wine storage options from Vinotheque, the best manufacturer in the US, that start around $2,000 for a 220-bottle cabinet. The Wine Resevoir is their basic unit. It's made out of solid wood and holds more than 800 pounds. It has wire shelving to maximize capacity and offers the most bottle-size flexibility (your Champagne and Burgundy bottles will fit on the same shelves as your Bordeaux bottles). It also has Vinotheque’s new 2500 digital top-venting cooler, controls humidity and the construction is the same quality as their more expensive "designer" cabinets. Built to last, and very precise, you can even upgrade it with special doors and wood options. This is the best price per bottle type of cabinet available from Vinotheque.
For the Collector:
Vinotheque also makes a variety of stunning cabinets in a wide range of styles in 220-bottle capacity and 526-bottle capacity models. These cabinets, which are all made by hand in Stockton, California, can be slightly tweaked (wood finish, stain, window shape) or custom-made to your fit your needs, from wood type to bottle configuration to built-ins. But looks aside, the most important part of these cabinets, the cooling unit, is custom-made by Whisperkool for Vinotheque, and the QT version is nearly silent, making it perfect for home use. Most also have a liquid measuring thermostat to check the internal temperature of a wine bottle. These include the Villa Series, Traditional, Winery and Custom Cabinets, and they start at about $3,000 (the designer units start at around $5,100). These types of cabinets really show off your collection and maintain proper temperature and humidity control.
For the Lucky Collector with Plenty of Room:
What wine lover hasn't dreamed of their own custom in-home cellar. If you've got the space—a basement, an extra room, even a spare, insulated closet—you could fulfill that dream! Wherever they're located, all in-home cellars share two qualities, they're in a well-insulated, sealed space, and they have a top-quality cooling system. We recommend the ones made by Whisperkool. They have a system to suit every cellar configuration, from self-contained to fully-ducted cooling units to split systems that fall somewhere in between.
Of course, all of these in-home solutions are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Contact K&L's Shaun Green (who helped me write this piece) by phone at 877.KLWINES or by email at email@example.com, to find out which storage solution suits your needs and your budget best.
Next up…off-site storage solutions.