Did I Mention We’re Building A Wine Cellar?

Mo Wine Please

Wine Storage – A Cabinet, a Refrigerator or a Wine Cellar?

Peter has been looking forward to this for a very long time. Pretty soon his precious wine collection will have a new home – and Peter will have a new playroom.

When he began this wine collecting adventure almost ten years ago, all of our bottles were stored on a metal rack from IKEA in our unfinished basement.

Pretty soon, one rack turned into six racks. It happened fast.

It became clear that Peter was pretty serious about his new hobby. It was time for some serious equipment to protect his investment.

We bought a EuroCave Wine Refrigerator. This beautiful gem promised to hold 230 bottles.

Surely we would NEVER out grow that! HA!

The EuroCave Model 266 from www.wineenthusiast.com

The EuroCave Model 266 from www.wineenthusiast.com

While it is a fabulous place to store your wine, the only way to get 230 bottles into the EuroCave is to remove all the shelves and stack bottle upon bottle from top to bottom. Heaven forbid you want to get to the bottle at the bottom of the stack!

The usable capacity in the EuroCave, especially when incorporating rolling shelves for easy access, was more like 150 bottles.

So, the next thing we knew a delivery truck arrived bringing us our 2nd EuroCave.

It’s a slippery slope, my friends.

At that time we were members of about ten different wine clubs plus we clearly were not drinking enough wine so our inventory kept growing.

All was proceeding along in a hunky-dory manner and then Peter took a new job in California.

We were very fortunate to be able to keep our house in Chicago, knowing that we would be returning permanently once the California adventure was done.

We left one EuroCave in Chicago and brought one, along with 12 cases of wine, to California.

The 144 bottles settled into the EuroCave in their new California home blissfully unaware (as was I) that they would eventually be joined by lots and lots and lots more bottles.

What do you do when you out grow your home wine storage equipment?

Off-site wine storage. Of course!

It’s actually a brilliant business plan: a wine store and restaurant that has transformed its warehouse area into a climate-controlled environment, featuring lockers of all shapes and sizes. The quarterly rental paid by collectors provides a steady stream of income that pays the bills even as restaurant and store sales might fluctuate in difficult economies.

I will spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that one locker turned into a bigger locker, then a second and a third.

Forget a slippery slope – this has been more like an Olympic luge run.

Now, as we begin to wrap up our California adventure and transition back to life in Chicago, we decided it was time to get serious and give the wine bottles a proper home.

With recommendations from our favorite wine store, we found a fabulous designer and contractor for the project.

Saying that we wanted the finished room to look nice but not necessarily something worthy of a spread in Architectural Digest, the finished plans call for plenty of storage, an area for wine glasses and a table in the center of the room for tasting. The room will be kept at the proper temperature by a nifty little number called a Whisperkool – basically an indoor room air conditioner.

We found this super-cool chandelier from The Wine Country Craftsman on Etsy. It’s made from reclaimed wine barrels with shades made from wine barrel bands, coiled into a cone shape.

wine cellar chandelier

Our fabulous wine cellar chandelier from The Wine Country Craftsman on Etsy.

Construction will be complete in another few weeks and then the fine folks at Wine By Air will pick up our – wait for it – 850 bottles from the three storage lockers at the wine store, pack them up and every-so-gently, in a climate controlled truck, drive them to their new home in our Chicago basement.

Peter is giddy with excitement at the prospect of actually being able to access all the wine without having to dig through stacks and stacks of bottles or boxes.

From now on the answer to the question, “Where’s Peter?” will most likely be “In the wine cellar.”

wine cellar

A work in progress

Alright – so what’s the take-away from this story for those of you who may not have a wine collecting obsession and, perhaps instead have a reasonable number of bottles in your home?

No matter if you spend $5 or $500 for a bottle of wine, the rules are basically the same.

Wine should be stored on its side in a cool, dark place.

The ideal temperature for wine storage is between 45 and 65 degrees with 55 degrees being kind of the perfect sweet spot.  Wine can be stored in your home refrigerator for short periods of time but that should not be the place you plan to age wine over the course of years.

Consistency of climate might be even more important than temperature. Wide swings in temperatures can do more damage to a bottle of wine than storing it in a place that stays a constant 68 degrees.

Do you have a spare corner of a closet or cabinet? That’s perfect as long as it stays consistently cool-ish. Don’t store your wine in a cabinet next to the stove, for instance. Bad idea.

Obviously, keep your wine out of the sunlight. Decorative wine racks are fine for short-term storage but make sure it’s not sitting in front of your sunniest window.

Unless you live in the desert or plan to store your wine in a musty, damp basement, you really don’t need to worry too much about controlling the humidity.  If the level of humidity is comfortable for you, it’s probably ok for your wine. Especially for near to mid-term consumption.

Wine should be stored on its side. This keeps the corks from dying out and makes for easy and efficient stacking. If you are going to drink a bottle soon or if it has a screw top this is less important.

All of this being said, if you do not have a spot in your home that remains below 68 degrees year round, if you keep bottles of wine on hand for any length of time and/or if you have any bottles you are planning to age over 5 – 10+ years, my recommendation would be to invest in a small wine cooler.

Coolers come in as small as a six bottle size and will keep your wine in perfect condition.  Particularly if you are making a monetary investment in wine, buying a couple of special occasion bottles, you should seriously consider investing in a good home for your wine.

But, as I can absolutely vouch for as true, heed these words from The Wine Enthusiast:

“Whatever number you’re thinking of when it comes to bottle capacity, double it. Once you’ve started accumulating wines to drink later, it’s hard to stop.”

Now they tell me…

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  1. That is SO EXCITING!! And I LOVE that chandelier! It is AWESOME. 🙂 Cannot wait to see pictures of the final look of the wine cellar!-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted…Top 10 Ways You Know You Are Definitely In New York City!My Profile

  2. That will be an amazing space – can’t wait to see it finished. Love the chandelier too 🙂
    Vicki recently posted…Red BerriesMy Profile

  3. I don’t think I’ll ever be up to wine cellar standards but I definitely hope one day to need a wine cooler. Can’t wait to see photos of your cellar once it is done!
    Kate recently posted…Frozen FenwayMy Profile

  4. WOW!!! So exciting!!! We have always wanted to have a wine cellar/tasting room – I can’t wait to see y’all’s completed room!!
    Kim recently posted…Wall-Sits, Planks and National Day of SomethingMy Profile

  5. A slippery slope indeed. I had to laugh at it morphing into a full blow luge. Makes me a little relieved that I’m a vodka/tonic girl who just want fresh lemons and good vodka. I’m afraid I’ve never acquired the wine gene. But I enjoy reading of your escapades into the wine cellar.

  6. Does he have a speadsheet that catalogs all the wines? So excited that this is moving along!

  7. Wow Mo that is some serious wine obsession you guys have. I had no idea. How fantastic, I love that it is a shared interest and one that travels with you. Enjoy the new cellar and can I say that chandelier is gorgeous.
    Karen Main recently posted…You are on holidays remember.My Profile

  8. How cool that you are building a wine cellar!!! And that chandelier – I love it! Can’t wait to see the finished room! My father in law has one and it is such a great room! Our wine is definitely not stored properly. 🙁
    Michelle recently posted…When One Word Just Isn’t Enough…New Year’s ResolutionsMy Profile

  9. Maybe he just needs to have more parties and serve more wine! I sent youa Christmas card it was returned in the mail:(. When is the big move back to Chicago, hopefully after the thaw!

  10. Mo – once again I leave your sight a much wiser gal. Who knew there was an off-site storage facility for wine? So very cool. I love that you guys have so much wine that you needed to take advantage of it. That you will now be able to store the wine is one spot is really great.
    Looking forward to seeing the pics of the new cellar! As for that chandelier – well it is above and beyond just the best thing I’ve seen all week. Love it.
    Kelly McKenzie recently posted…Call Me CrazyMy Profile

  11. That chandelier is awesome. I love reading about all your wine related adventures, Mo. I just keep my bottle of vodka in the freezer, underneath the ground turkey and the ice cream.
    Dana recently posted…No way like BroadwayMy Profile

  12. i was at a 2 year old birthday party this past weekend and my friend’s living room was one big toys ‘r us. i was like, “there is no way all these toys would fit into our 1 bedroom apartment.” and my friend went onto say that you grow into whatever space you have.

    i tell you this, mo, because you are going to need a 2nd wine cellar sooner than you think! my husband was wine tasting this weekend while i was wine sniffing and i can’t wait to hit the bottle again once this baby arrives! so many great wines out there!
    catherine gacad recently posted…Real Estate Update: 2 Offers, 2 DaysMy Profile

    • Hahaha! Catherine, that is my biggest fear because I just know that my husband will not stop buying wine! We built the wine cellar to fit twice as much wine as we have so that everything can be spread out and organized but I know that what your friend said is correct. We fill the space we have! Yikes!!
      Mo Lux recently posted…Making Predictions And Scoring PointsMy Profile

  13. May I just say how jealous I am? My dream home not only has a library, but a wine cellar as well. Of course, as I was reading this, I was thinking, “I probably wouldn’t need a wine cellar because I would drink all my wine too quickly to require one.” But maybe not!
    Kristen recently posted…8 Things People Forgot How To Do: Road Warriors EditionMy Profile

  14. So cool that you and your hubby share an obsession. Congrats on a new chapter with wine – can’t wait to see your finished cellar 🙂
    Tressie Davis recently posted…7 Awesome Chelsea MI LinksMy Profile

  15. HaHa, I can’t imagine filling up multiple 150 bottle storage coolers. When are you planning to get around to drinking it? 🙂
    Ryan recently posted…What’s the Best 15-Inch Wide Wine Fridge? – 15 Inches Width Wine Cooler ReviewsMy Profile


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