Maybe it’s been your long-term goal or maybe it just sort of happened, but you’ve become a wine collector.
You’ve amassed enough bottles for yourself and your guests that two or three racks isn’t going to work anymore, and with what you’re investing the storage conditions are becoming more of an issue.
Wine and whiskey cellars and closets may not seem like they’d be the easiest add-on to your home, but there are plenty of ways to accommodate your burgeoning hobby.
The first step is to figure out how big your collection is now and could get in the future. Many wine enthusiasts encourage going for twice as much capacity as you need right now because of the addictiveness of the hobby, but consider your own turnover and level of self-control, too.
One hundred bottles or fewer can be handled by a single or double under-the-counter refrigerator. Going bigger? The rule of thumb is 25 square feet per 500 bottles in a separate room. Many manufacturers sell properly refrigerated wine coolers (also called wine cellars) that can hold 500 bottles or more, though their space-saving designs can make it difficult to find the right bottle for every occasion in a flash.
It’s easiest when you do have a basement, one that can be sealed off from sunlight and kept at a constant 55 degrees-ish. You’re also more likely to be able to have a “passive” cellar that isn’t independently cooled.
Cooling an above-ground space will add a little to your energy bills, but there are specialized wine cellar coolers for every kind of space from those installed just below the ceiling in small spaces to ducted coolers installed some distance away from a larger room, protecting the bottles from vibrations that can also derail the proper aging process.
The 55-degree rule generally works for cooling all your wine together, but many varietals and producers have their own very specific recommendations. You can buy several single-zone coolers to accommodate each of these or a dual-zone one for grouping reds and whites, which can’t be done in a single room or cellar.
Finding room for a separate wine tasting area, either inside or near a wine room or cellar, brings an extra touch of luxury to the experience. Ideally, you’ll be able to accommodate at least four people, with a small refrigerator on hand for cheese, fruit and other delectables.
If you’ve got the room and the whimsy, you can build a hideaway cellar accessed by a portal concealed by a painting, bookcase, rug, kitchen island — use your imagination!