Give your wine a room to grow in
Cathy Cohn, owner of Vail-based Cellar Consulting, gives five recommendations for starting and maintaining an in-home wine cellar space:
1. Temperature and humidity control is an absolute must. Wines (red, white and Champagne), need to be kept at a stable temperature — right around 55 degrees Fahrenheit — and with a humidity level around 70 percent, which will keep corks from drying out. Also, keeping wine on its side allows the wine to keep in contact with the cork, which also helps to keep it moist.
2. Keep everything organized and easy to find with a binning system, even in a smaller closet-style cellar. Dibben said a rule of thumb is to first arrange by whites and reds, then to divide by country and subdivide by region or varietal. He said some people organize by country, weight, and how they might pair the wines with food.
3. People should generally work with a variety of racking sizes. Cohn said you’d be surprised by how many people don’t realize the variety of sizes and shapes that wine bottles come in, until after their oversized pinot noir bottles are delivered and they don’t fit in the prescribed spaces. In addition, she said, it’s nice to have space for large format bottles and also sometimes drawers for wooden boxes.
4. Keep a good, up-to-date cellar tracking program that is frequently updated. There are software packages available, as well as online resources like Cellar Tracker. Cohn said tracking should be kept up on a monthly or quarterly basis.
5. Direct light and heat can negatively effect wines, so keep dim to dark lighting in the space for long-term storage.
Editor’s note: This story first ran in Vail Valley HOME magazine.
A shallow pool of Burgundy is swirled atop a thin Rediel stem, leaving the wine’s long legs to rest on delicate curves of crystal. The dance continues, combining unique elements of style and form to create an experience of individual interpretation — the story of a wine’s heritage and harvest; the dynamics of its flavor and variety of its complements.
The familiar romance with this perfect pour is only one rendition of what can become a wine lover’s lifelong commitment — an undying infatuation kept in the cool and dim corners of a heart in the home.
“The reason to have a wine cellar in your house is because you have a passion,” said Allan Dibben, manager and wine director of Vail Fine Wines. “If you love wine — all its story, history and geography — then you can be a part of its continually evolving world.”
Cathy Cohn, owner of Vail-based Cellar Consulting, said one of the biggest benefits to having a home cellar is the ability to age wine. She explains that although you can buy older or library wines in the open market, it can be extremely expensive, and the quality and storage of those wines can be questionable.
“Another great reason is simply so that you can store hard-to-get wines — the Sine Qua Nons, First Growth Bordeaux and DRCs (Domaine de la Romanee-Conti) of the world — that might not be available for purchase on a regular basis,” Cohn said. “Having your own wine room or cellar also insures that those wines are going to be stored at the correct temperature and humidity levels, which is absolutely integral to the preservation of not only collectable wines, but all wines.”
Dibben explains that beyond a fun hobby or a pure passion, collecting wine in your own home is truly an investment opportunity.
“I know people who have bought wines in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s, and some of those wines are worth three times or even tenfold what they originally were,” said Dibben.
He said that if you want wines to properly age, then they need to be properly stored.
“If you buy the right wines and you are smart with storage, then you do create a good possibility of getting a return on your investment,” Dibben said.
Dibben said that for many, wine is the one of the things that can truly make a house a home.
“When you are sitting around with friends, or even strangers, and enjoying wine together, you already have that in common,” Dibben said. “What a great place to begin for ultimate enjoyment and hospitality.”