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how to: design wine storage

Underground cellars date back hundreds if not thousands of years—before refrigeration—but today they can simply be accessible storage for wine lovers and frequent entertainers.

Whether you’re a novice or a connoisseur (fr., to know) there are a few key points to keep in mind before building a wine cellar.

1. UV rays can break down the complex structure of wines—which is why bottles are made of protective, darker transparencies—so choose a dark space in your home such as a corner in the basement, a closet, pantry, or under the stairs.

2. Avoid extreme heat and cold—but temperature fluctuations are the worst. Find a space that’s consistently cool with a 70% level of humidity, or where the climate can be easily controlled.

3. Wine breaths while it’s in the bottle, not just after it’s opened, so avoid strong aromas in the air.

4. Always store bottles on their sides to avoid dry corks—which can lead to oxidation or outside air getting into the wine.

5. Moving the bottles or constant vibrations can disturb wines so avoid the space next to your washer/dryer. It’s best to secure racks to walls—definitely if they’re taller than 48”.

6. Whatever racks suits the overall design of the room, make sure they accommodate champagne bottles—which are larger than standard reds or whites—if you intend to stock them.

8. Think about what kind of filing system makes the most sense to you. Reds vs. whites is easy—it’s when you get down to regions, grape varieties and blends that’s a challenge.

7. Go big and include a tasting area by incorporating a high dining table or mini bar. Keep accessories nearby—including bottle openers, glasses, cork bins, napkins…

9. If you build it, wine will come to you as gifts year-round so over-build and grow into the space.

10. For the best deals to stock your cellar, sign-up for membership to your favorite vineyard or wine club. Not sure what to stock? Or for how long? Research, build, then plan a wine tasting party!

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