There’s nothing quite as satisfying for a wine lover as having a selection of hand-picked wines stored perfectly, ready for a special occasion with friends, or just for a relaxing evening at home. And while many people enjoy collecting it, few have the space or resources to build an incredible wine cellar. However, with the right wine cellar design, creating beautiful custom wine cellars can be an achievable and rewarding experience for any taste, budget, or style.
From traditional wood wine cellars to glass-enclosed modern styles you see in high-end restaurants, there is a perfect way to display your passion and share your pleasure in creating this fantastic addition to your house with friends and family.
Today, we’ll explore the options for wine cellar design and proper storage techniques to keep it all in perfect condition. We also have suggestions for a few French and Italian wines to get you started. Finally, we will discuss entertaining in your new wine cellar, whether for dinner parties and tastings or simply enjoying a few sips in quiet to unwind at the end of the day.
The Options for Custom Wine Cellars
There are numerous wine cellar designs to consider when it comes to custom cellars. The size and layout of your space will largely dictate the design and materials used in your wine cellar, but there are some key considerations to keep in mind.
The most crucial aspect of any cellar is temperature control. Wine should be stored at a consistent temperature between 45°F and 65°F to preserve its quality and taste. Any fluctuations in temperature can cause your carefully curated selections to spoil, develop off-flavors, or even oxidize.
Custom wine cellars can be built with climate control systems that maintain a steady temperature or left to cool naturally with proper insulation and ventilation.
You’ll want to consider storage capacity when designing your custom wine cellar. Whether you’re building a small wine closet or a full-fledged wine cellar, you’ll need to consider how much space you want to allocate to each bottle of wine. This will largely depend on the size of your collection and how often you plan to access it. Cellars can be designed with various wine storage solutions, including custom walls, cabinets, racks, and columns.
While lighting may seem like a minor consideration, it can have a considerable impact on quality. UV rays from sunlight and traditional light fixtures can cause degradation and changes in color, so it’s important to use low-UV lighting in your custom wine cellar. LED lighting is a popular choice as it produces little to no heat and can be adjusted depending on the mood and atmosphere you want to have in your wine cellar.
Finally, the style of your wine cellar is up to you. You can choose a modern or traditional look or something in between. Perhaps you want a wall of glass to showcase your collection, or you prefer a more secluded and intimate space for your cellar. With a custom wine cellar, the style possibilities are endless.
Proper Storage of Wine
Once you’ve designed and built your custom wine cellar or room, storing everything properly is important. Proper storage can help to maintain the quality and preserve the investment you’ve made in collecting some of the best wines you can find.
As mentioned earlier, the temperature is crucial for creating an ideal environment for wine storage. Using a climate control system in your wine cellar is recommended to maintain a consistent temperature. In hot areas of the country, you may need to install cooling units to maintain the proper temperature. Choose a naturally cool, dry, and well-ventilated space if this is not an option.
Avoid storing in areas subject to significant temperature fluctuations, such as an attic or garage.
Humidity control is another important consideration when storing wine. Wine corks can dry out if exposed to low humidity, which allows air to enter the bottle and ruins the wine. On the other hand, high humidity can cause mold and mildew to form on labels and wine racks.
Aim for a humidity level between 50% and 70% to ensure your wine stays in good condition.
We touched on lighting earlier, but it’s worth reiterating how much impact it can have on your wine. UV rays from sunlight and traditional light fixtures can degrade and cause unwanted color changes; use low-UV lighting in your wine cellar to avoid this.
Finally, the position of your wine bottles is also important. Store wines on their sides to keep the cork moist and prevent air from entering the bottle.
Starter Bottles of French and Italian Wines
Now that you have a cellar or wine room, it’s time to start filling it with fantastic wines. Here are a few French and Italian wines to get you started:
- Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc: This white wine is made from a blend of grapes, including Roussanne and Grenache Blanc. It has a rich and complex flavor with honey, almond, and peach notes.
- Chateau Montrose Saint Estephe 2009: An incredible Bordeaux with a rich, deep color, the complexities of this one will have you hunting it down whenever you can find it. Most wine experts agree that this wine has yet to fully come into its own and will only get better with age—a personal favorite for sure.
- Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche: A highly sought-after red wine from the Burgundy region, this wine is known for its complex flavor and aroma, with notes of black cherry, licorice, and earthy undertones. This one is something for the vintage cellars; it doesn’t come cheap, but apparently, it’s well worth every penny spent. Pairing with roasted chicken, duck, or game meats is a great choice.
- Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve: Another excellent selection for those of you building your vintage cellars, this full-bodied red wine from Tuscany is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes. It’s aged in oak barrels, giving it a rich and complex flavor, with black cherry, leather, and tobacco notes. It pairs well with grilled meats, hearty pasta dishes, and strong cheeses.
- Mastroberardino Radici Taurasi: Another red wine from Italy, this wine is made from Aglianico grapes grown in the Campania region. It’s a full-bodied wine with bold flavors of blackberry, plum, and spice, with a hint of smokiness. Pair it with grilled meats, game, or hearty stews.
- Vietti Moscato d’Asti: Try this Moscato from Italy’s Piedmont region for a sweet and refreshing wine. It’s low in alcohol and light and effervescent, with notes of apricot, peach, and honey. It’s a perfect pairing with fruit and light desserts.
Entertaining with Your Custom Wine Cellar
Finally, a wine cellar can be a great addition to your home entertaining routine. Whether hosting a dinner party or enjoying a quiet night at home, there are endless ways to enjoy your custom cellar.
Dinner Parties and Wine Pairings
If you’re hosting a dinner party, consider using your wine cellar to showcase some of your best vintages. You can create a menu that pairs well with the different types of wine you have available and impress your guests with your extensive knowledge of wine. Use wine glasses appropriate for each type of wine, and be sure to decant any red wines that need it to fully open up and reveal their flavors.
Relaxing with Your Wine Collection
Of course, beautiful wine cellars don’t have to be reserved just for special occasions. They’re a great place to unwind and relax after a long day. Choose a comfortable chair or couch for your wine cellar to make the space inviting, and use soft lighting to create a calming atmosphere.
You can even keep a journal nearby to record wine tastings along with your thoughts and impressions of each bottle.
Choosing a wine cellar design, planning, and building one in your home can be a rewarding experience for a wine lover, and with the right design and storage techniques, you can ensure your wines stay in perfect condition. Consider the temperature, storage capacity, lighting, and style when designing your custom wine cellar.
Once you’ve filled it with some fantastic wines from across the country and around the globe, consider entertaining in your new space, either with dinner parties and wine pairings or simply relaxing in the room with a glass of one of your favorites at the end of a long day. Whatever the occasion, homes with wine cellars are sure to impress and delight any oenophile.