One of the great pleasures of wine derives from building a collection. Over time, one amasses treasures from travels, birthdays, or winery visits, creating a repository of those special moments. But as bottles accumulate, each collector must ask themselves – where is the best place to store my collection and ensure my wines age in the best conditions?
Collectors can choose from several storage options depending on their collection size, budget and intended use.
When considering all the different storage options, finding a solution with the proper environmental conditions is a prerequisite.
While there are several potential environmental hazards, including light and vibration, the main two are temperature and humidity. These are key to wine and cork health.
There are two main rules to remember – keep it cool and keep it steady.
As a general rule of thumb, wines should be kept at 11–14˚C (52–57˚F). If temperatures rise significantly higher, it can ‘cook’ the wine. Temperature fluctuations can also have negative effects. The expansion and contraction of the liquid could loosen the cork, allowing in oxygen.
Humidity is similarly important for natural corks. If conditions are too dry, corks can dry out and again allow oxygen to seep into the bottle. A 60–70% humidity range is ideal, and all bottles with natural corks should be stored on their sides to keep corks wet.
How many bottles one plans to store is perhaps the most important question to ask. Collectors with just a few bottles who buy infrequently need not invest in a wine cellar. Conversely, collectors with larger collections or quickly growing collections will soon outgrow their wine fridge.
Collectors with fewer than 250 bottles have several options.
Wines which are not intended for ageing can be placed in a rack in the coolest part of the house (preferably a basement or cellar).
Conversely, collectors with fine wines who wish to see their bottles improve over years should invest in a good quality wine fridge or offsite locker at a storage facility or club. Both are generally available in a range of sizes, making it easy to upsize as collections grow.
Collectors with over 250 bottles will most certainly have bottles intended for long-term ageing, and should therefore opt for either a wine fridge, a wine wall, offsite storage, or a full home cellar.
Wine fridges are convenient, fairly economical, and modular, so more can be purchased as required. However, a frequent complaint is that many designs are tailored for Bordeaux bottles and ill-suited to wider Burgundy or Champagne bottles. Hence the listed capacity is rarely achieved. Another downside to fridges is they often will not offer humidity control.
A wine wall is a nice intermediary between the fridge and cellar. It can be enclosed to preserve temperature and humidity, and also makes a beautiful display piece in the home.
Offsite storage can refer either to an accessible locker, perhaps at a wine club, or case storage at a warehouse facility. The latter is particularly useful if one keeps wines in cases for long-term storage or for investment purposes and plans to resell.
The home cellar is the most expensive, but also the most exciting option as it allows for the most customization not only in size but also in design.
Access & Aesthetics
Many collectors focus on size and overlook another important consideration: how they plan to interact with their wines.
Those who wish to have their wines on-hand for regular dinners should consider options in their home, like a cellar, fridge or rack. Those who have purchased their wine for investment or long-term storage may be better served by offsite storage. Especially for those who plan to resell their wines, keeping wines out of sight may be wise to avoid thirsty guests prompting you to pull the cork on some prized La Tâche!
Function and Aesthetics
One of the benefits of a wine collection is that it can provide a beautiful backdrop for social gatherings. For some collectors this is unimportant, as they simply want a solution that provides optimal conditions at minimal cost. But for others, having a lit wine wall in their dining room or a cellar with glass walls around a table adds an aesthetic appeal to dinner parties, becoming a topic of conversation and enjoyment among their guests.
Unlocking the Joy of Collecting
While storage may seem like the most mundane part of collecting, it is the vital step that ensures wines achieve their utmost potential. It can even become a source of joy in its own right, allowing each collector to bring their collection to life in accordance with their own style and preferences.
InVintory is a mobile & web app that helps wine collectors easily track and find their bottles. This blog is the first in a series by COO Yule Georgieva on how to build and manage a wine collection.
Vinosity readers get 50% off their first year of InVintory Prestige – normally $99/year. Visually find any bottle in an instant, see your collection value, and access exciting partner benefits. Use code VINOSITY at invintory.com or download on the Apple App Store. Offer eligible for new subscribers only.