Wine Storage for Every Palate (and Palette)

wine cellar glass walls houzz
Photo courtesy

A wise person once said, “It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full. There is clearly room for more wine.”

It appears many Northern Colorado homeowners agree. Requests to build dedicated spaces for wine collections are definitely on the rise.

under counter wine cooler refrigerator HighCraft BuildersWine storage options run the gamut, from small stand-alone coolers with a 12-bottle capacity to large climate-controlled basement cellars that can hold one thousand. If you’re in the market for a wine storage solution, the first step is to decide how many bottles you want to store and then identify available space in your home. Budget will ultimately shape the scope of the project.

For example, a dishwasher-size cooler with glass-front door can hold about fifty bottles, is moderately priced and will neatly tuck under a kitchen or bar counter. To substantially increase capacity, consider a higher-priced upright wine refrigerator with dual temperature zones, slide-out wooden shelves and vacuum-sealed doors.

Homeowners with larger wine collections and budgets might consider the following when installing an enclosed wine room or cellar.

Be sure your wine cellar is not exposed to direct sunlight. If you’re tight on space, maybe repurpose a closet, or reclaim a small storage area or space under the stairs.

wine cellar under stairs
Reclaimed space under the stairs. Photo courtesy

Just remember, each bottle of wine weighs roughly three pounds. If your collection contains 850 bottles, that’s like adding the weight of a Mini Cooper to one room. Make sure the space can take the extra weight. Needless to say, it’s no surprise the majority of wine cellars are located in basements.

Experts say a wine cellar should be kept at plus or minus 55 degrees Fahrenheit and anywhere from 57-70 percent humidity. You can do this by installing a special wall-mounted cooling unit that controls both temperature and humidity.

For the unit to work efficiently, the room must be sealed and insulated extremely well. We suggest using spray-foam insulation within framed walls, which also provides a good vapor barrier. When installing glass walls or doors, use dual-pane options and be sure to create a tight seal.

In addition to climate control, proper bottle organization is also very important because it can prevent oxidation, improve accessibility and serve as a major design element in the space.

According to Wine Spectator magazine, most producers recommend storing all bottles – even those with glass, plastic and metal toppers – on their side. Using multiple storage systems, such as racks, single-bottle cubbies, open shelving and shallow display alcoves for empty trophy bottles, will add both flexibility and interest. Store ready-to-drink wines at waist or eye height, and place wines that require aging on higher racks. If your space has vaulted ceilings, consider a rolling library ladder to access bottles on upper shelves.

There are plenty of building materials and furnishings to choose from that are durable and stylish. Rugged stone walls, wood shelving, barrel ceilings, heavy chandeliers and limestone flooring can generate the rustic grotto-like feel of Mediterranean wine caves. Glass walls, frameless doors, metal racks and recessed lighting produce a crisp and clutterless contemporary design.

contemporary wine cellar houzz
Light and bright minimalist design. Photo courtesy

If you have enough square footage, you might install a small sink to rinse glasses and include a seating area. Add a hand-hewn farm table, butcher-block island or upended wine barrel with bar stools to create an instant tasting room. If you find it hard to relax in such a chilly space, locate your sitting area outside the wine cellar door.

Photo courtesy
Seating area outside wine cellar. Photo courtesy

Whether you install a small under-counter cooler or an uber-cool wine cave, choose the option that works best for your lifestyle. As you mull over the possibilities, maybe reach for the bottle opener. Planning this project pairs well with a full glass of your favorite vino.

This content originally appeared in Dwight’s and Bryan’s October 2015 Building Solutions column, “There’s a wine storage solution for every palette.”