Have you ever thought of owning a wine cellar and quickly snapped out of your reverie, because you felt a wine cellar was far above your pay grade? Well, we have good news for you- your dreams are still valid. Gone are the days when owning a wine cellar was an affair of the rich folks only.
With the right storage space and controlled conditions, you can easily construct an easy DIY wine cellar that can accommodate up to 18 bottles of wine or more. Contrary to popular belief, a wine cellar does not have to be built in a picturesque cave or an underground vault ridden with cobwebs. Here is a guide for the best 18 bottle wine cellars.
What purpose does your wine cellar serve?
You should answer this question before delving into the details of the cellar. Do you want it strictly for storage? If so, then you do not need much space for an 18 bottle cellar, and any remote location in the house can serve the purpose perfectly.
If the idea of the cellar is to showcase your collection to people and entertain them, then you need a much larger area with enough room for movements. Note that your wine exhibitions will be accompanied by wine tasting. You should, therefore, designate a small area for relaxing and imbibing wine.
Which location is the most ideal?
The best place to install a cellar is in the house basement because it has the same ideal climatic and environmental conditions of caverns.
However, setting up an 18 bottle cellar in the whole basement would be a waste of valuable space. For such a small quantity, you can pretty much set it up anywhere in the house provided the conditions are regulated. For instance, you can convert a closet to a cellar, or if you have limited space, then the area under your staircase will work just fine. Whichever area you select, make sure it has no direct sunlight.
What are the ideal conditions for the proper storage of wine?
Wine is very delicate and requires the right conditions to age properly. Any significant fluctuations in these conditions could lead to wine deterioration. Therefore, you need to be very careful where you store your precious wine collections.
For the chemical reactions to occur at the right pace, there should be a consistent temperature range between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. There may be slight deviations either below or above the postulated range. However, this range has to be maintained with utmost tenacity. Keeping temperatures below the 50 degrees mark could lead to a very slow aging process, while higher temperatures could result in uncontrollable rapid aging.
It is not advisable therefore to rely on natural environmental conditions, as they tend to fluctuate consistently. For proper temperature regulation, you will obviously need a cooling system. An 18 bottle cellar is quite small. Therefore, a small size HVAC unit will work perfectly.
Care to install the right cooling unit, because this is the most important feature of your wine cellar. The right temperatures will facilitate the right chemical reactions, which will improve the taste, texture, and aroma of the wine.
Another factor you need to put into consideration is the humidity level of the wine cellar. The recommended humidity level is between 55% and 75%. It is very important to moisturize the room where the wine cellar is installed, especially if you live in a generally dry area. The humidity maintains the corks, ensuring they do not shrink, crack or become very porous to air. Damaged corks will allow too much air into the bottles, which will affect the body, taste, and flavor of the wine.
Although some cooling units have inbuilt humidity systems, some of them are not very effective. You, therefore, need an effective humidifier to keep the room moist. It should have a humidistat to keep track of the changes in moisture levels and respond accordingly.
Although this is not a primary requirement, we also recommended a cellar with horizontal racks. This will keep the bottles in a flat position, allowing the wine to be in contact with the corks, keeping them moist. This will reduce the likelihood of the corks drying out, due to external dryness. You may even opt for an upside-down type of wine cellar.
Keep your wine cellar away from direct sunlight. Ultraviolet rays from the sun destroy the quality of wine over time. Therefore, the perfect place for a wine cellar should have no access to direct sunlight. Also, keep away from all ultraviolet light sources, as they are equally degrading to the wine as the sun rays. Standard light bulbs that emit heat should also be avoided, as they increase the thermal conditions of the wine cellars.
For the wine cellar, go for the no-heat, low light LEDs or tinted light sources. However, ensure the bottles do not come into direct contact with the illumination from the light sources for even development of wines.
Which material is best for the cellar racks?
Though the default choice of wine racks is wood, other materials are equally good, such as stainless steel, cement, terracotta, and ceramic. The choice will depend on the overall design and décor you are going for. If you want an earthly feel, then cement, ceramic or terracotta cellars are the right options. If you prefer a modern, polished design, then there are various stainless steel cellar ideas that you can choose from.
If you go for the wooden racks, ensure the type of wood is resistant to cool and humid conditions. You do not want molds building up in your wine cellar or the woods crumbling from the weight of the wines. The best wooden racks are made from mahogany and redwood, as they are hardy and resistant to all climatic conditions.
Now that you are familiar with all the basic requirements, it is up to you to set up the wine cellar of your dreams. The good thing about owning a small wine cellar is that you can personalize it to your taste and also design it to be part of the décor of your house. Good luck.