Don’t wait until you have a large collection.
You don’t need to amass hundreds of bottles before you consider building a cellar. In fact, it’s best to take the opposite approach: build the cellar and then fill it.
You don’t want good wines to cook in the heat of some closet or to freeze over-chilled in an icy basement. And if you do keep your wine in the basement, it may have to rub shoulders with undesirable influences such as harsh solvents or cans of paint.
These chemicals break down over time and can seep into your wine through the cork.
Don’t use the wrong tools.
Long-term wine storage has specific requirements, and trying to substitute other equipment can be costly.
For instance, you want a cool area but using a standard air-conditioner isn’t wise because it removes the humidity necessary to keep your corks moist. That’s also why you shouldn’t keep your wine in the fridge for longer than a week.
Don’t carpet your cellar floor instead of using tile: carpeting holds mould-inducing moisture.
That’s why redwood, though expensive, is the best wood for racking wine since it’s naturally odor-free, doesn’t require staining to look good, resists rot and mildew, and is strong relative to its weight.
Don’t blow your budget.
The cost of a cellar can range from a few hundred dollars for some racks to more than $50,000 for a built-in customized storage area.
A good compromise is a space some ten feet square and a budget of $5,000. (You can save some money by choosing less expensive finishes, tiles and lighting.) You can then spend your savings on more delicious wine.
Don’t overlook protecting your collection.
As your cellar grows, you might want to install an alarm system that can page you in the event of a break-in or power failure.
As well, remember to insure your collection for its replacement cost rather than its purchase price. A number of insurance companies now offer special clauses for wine collections, just as they do for art and jewelry.
Don’t forget to have fun.
Although a cellar protects your investment in wine, don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s mainly there for your enjoyment. A cellar celebrates all that wine encompasses: taste, history, science, culture, friendship and intimacy.
Here are more wine cellar options to consider.