“It’s a pity that you can’t caress a wine,” the writer Kurt Tucholsky is reported to have once said. This is true, but you should always treat wine well – and that means first and foremost storing it well. For many homeowners, it is not only important to guarantee the best possible conditions for the wine itself – creating the perfect private place to store wine is also a question of furnishing and style.
1. The cellar – the first choice for wine bottles
A dark cellar that is cooled consistently and naturally and that has adequate humidity is the classic place to store high-quality wine. However, the wine will not necessarily be the right temperature to drink. Although the rule of thumb is “better too cool than too warm”, the wine should be brought to the optimal temperature before serving. The Académie du Vin wine school recommends the following temperatures:
- Sweet wines
- 6-8 degrees
- Sparkling wines
- 6-10 degrees
- Young red wines
- 10-13 degrees
- Complex white wines
- 12-15 degrees
- Heavy red wines
- 15-18 degrees
These figures are of course an indication only. Because the cooler the wine, the less pronounced the sweetness and alcohol content. Some varieties are better to drink when they are served at lower temperatures, while others lose their charm.
If the wine bottles are closed with a natural cork, they should be placed horizontally on the wine shelf instead of vertically – otherwise the corks could dry out and shrink. Ideally, humidity in the wine cellar should be between 50 and 80 percent. This is moist enough to counteract the drying out of the cork, but not so moist that mold immediately forms.
The shelves should preferably be made of oak, as this type of wood can permanently withstand high levels of air humidity. The best material for the walls and floors of a wine cellar is
fired brick, which ensures a constant temperature and humidity. Tufa is also a good climatic building material, while marble and granite are more suitable from a design perspective.
2. The kitchen – space for more than cooking wine
In principle, the kitchen is not the right place to store wine, as it is usually too hot by the stove – and often too bright. Yet it’s just the place where a good drop of wine is needed. Let’s not forget that wine is also a cooking ingredient. This makes a fully integrated climate cabinet the ideal solution since the wine will be cooled to exactly the right temperature. Up to 100 bottles can fit into a multi-purpose climate cabinet, in which wine bottles are stored under optimal conditions until they are mature enough to drink.
3. The pantry – a clever replacement for the cellar
Many older houses still have a pantry. This little storage space located behind the kitchen in a cool corner of the house used to guarantee the safe storage of many foodstuffs. Anyone who still has a pantry today can consider themselves lucky. A place for storing wine can easily be set up there, as the conditions are almost as ideal as in the cellar. This may save investing in an electricity-consuming climate cabinet. Bottle racks can easily be integrated into existing storage systems as modules or independent structures.
4. The storeroom – a system for the practical-minded
Houses without a pantry may well have a storeroom. Clay tubes stacked on top of one another are perfect for storing bottles. This not only looks good, but also saves space. The wine bottles are kept in dark and slightly cool conditions inside the tubes. But be careful: this won’t work properly if the tubes are too close to the heating system or if the washing machine is vibrating alongside. Wine loves cool, calm conditions, even in a storeroom.
5. The living room – the proud homeowner’s display window
Like the kitchen, the living room is not the best choice to store wine. But if you have a bar, it can be turned into a wine bar: bar and wine cabinets are clever and beautifully styled pieces of furniture that not only serve to store wine and other spirits, but also to present them.
Whether you opt for a model that folds or one with open compartments, a vintage or smooth piano lacquer design, there is something for every taste. Wine, especially everyday varieties which no longer need to mature, can be stored in a practical and stylish way. But watch out: don’t forget that wine needs to be drunk at the right temperature. 100 years ago, rooms were much cooler, about 14 to 18 degrees Celsius. Wine could therefore be stored there and drunk immediately.
Today, rooms usually have a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius or more due to better insulation. That’s why using a climate cabinet is recommended. This can be set to 2 to 3 degrees below the temperature at which the wine needs to be consumed because the wine will warm up slightly once it has been opened.
6. The garage – access for wine lovers
The more custom-built the garage, the more possibilities for wine storage it offers. Extensions behind or next to the garage, sometimes used for garden appliances, are particularly suitable. If the external conditions such as darkness, temperature and humidity are right, a storage facility can be created that is in no way inferior to a cellar in terms of volume and quality. Otherwise, you can install a climate cabinet in the garage that you might not be able to fit elsewhere into the house.
7. A vinotheque – a showcase for enthusiasts
True wine lovers do not want to taste wine in a dark cellar, they prefer to be able to exhibit their treasures. This is possible by creating your own vinotheque, with room for wooden boxes, benches and of course sufficient shelving. Air conditioning throughout the room ensures perfect storage conditions. This is not so much a wine storage facility as a showroom, where friends and family can be invited for an aperitif.
Conclusion: wine storage for every taste
Wine finds its place anywhere: smaller volumes fit in every kitchen and bar; if you want to store more bottles and if maturity is important, create the right environment in the cellar or in your own vinotheque. Storage rooms or climate cabinets can strike a good balance. So “Cheers” and “Good health!”