Professional Organiser Julie Whiting shares her tops tips for cellaring and storing your wine.
I have a long-held fantasy about being the type of person who entertains often. Whilst in the midst of witty dinner-party conversation I descend from my huge kitchen larder into the nearby cellar to collect another matching wine to suit the course.
About to serve the salmon? That cheeky beaujolais will be perfect. Time for dessert? There is a delicious moscato down there on the right.
For many of us – myself included, a purpose-built cellar is not reality. If it is, I envy you. Not just for your perfect entertaining setup, but for having a terrific space to store your wine.
For the Collector
Ideally the cellar is big enough to hold a decent amount of wine and nurture some good quality younger bottles to maturity. It should be constructed to maintain consistent temperature and humidity therefore minimising spoilage and ensuring a delicious drop every time.
A lot of renovations and new home builds feature wine cellars and surprisingly, they are not always below ground. A wine cellar conditioner, good insulation and UV-free lighting can make almost any room a wine storage facility.
One thing often forgotten is that wine collecting can be expensive. If you’re aiming for a 500-bottle wine cellar and the bottles cost about $40 each, that’s $20,000 to fill the space.
But you don’t need to buy all your good bottles outright. To suit a custom cellar, you might consider some of the modular options available which can grow with your collection.
The Cellarstack range is a modern storage system comprising single pockets for maximum versatility. The entire rack can be built up and shaped to fit any space.
Cellar fitouts for storing your wine can be done by the team at Howards, so ask for a free design, measure and quote.
As with all home organising, I’d suggest categorising to ensure easy retrieval. Because wine is best stored horizontally, mixing varieties will make it difficult to find what you’re looking for. You won’t want to be scrambling around for the right bottle while your pasta sauce is burning on the stove and your guests mingle without you. So at the very least separate red and white, but better still, devise categories based on pairings. Wine to have with cheese platters, red meat, desserts, etc.
LABEL YOUR WINE
The chunky wooden Modularack option makes for easy labelling with lots of exposed edges. You can get kitchen labels from Howards but I also find that masking tape and a Sharpie do the job well, and is easily removed.
Besides varieties and pairings I would also label and sort by ideal consumption dates. I know the disappointment of missing critical consumption windows which meant spoilage of expensive bottles I had put aside for a special occasion.
You could also consider reminders on your phone or paper diary as added insurance that you get the most out of your wine. Usually my digital reminders hassle me about dull administrative tasks like paying bills or booking the dentist, but the sound of an alert to drink a well-cellared wine, is like music to my ears.
ideal conditions to store your wine
For those like me without a custom cellar, you could consider off-premises cellaring, or a wine fridge to nurture your good stock.
If you prefer to use what you already have at home, find a dark space to store your wine, which might mean inside boxes covered with a blanket. Sunlight is not your friend as it will prematurely age the wine.
The ideal temperature for white wine is between 7 and 10 degrees, and for reds it’s 10 to 16 degrees. Consistency is key. Variation in temperature and humidity should be minimal. That means away from exterior walls.
Vibrations are not advised, so in a warm cupboard above the washer-dryer combo is not ideal. Although the kitchen is a popular wine storage room due to convenience, likewise, it too is prone to temperature fluctuations. Some kitchen cabinetry has rows of cubby holes for bottles near warm appliances, which is less than perfect – especially if you have a roaming toddler who sees this is an invitation to grab your bottle and run off with it.
If you are more a quaffer than a collector, you can be a bit more relaxed about storing your wine. In fact, just buy the wine you like regularly and drink it soon. It saves storage and spoilage issues and requires less organisation.
In addition, Howards has some attractive non-modular storage ideas to hold your bottles. The Hexagonal 9 Bottle Wine Rack is fresh and modern, perfect near the dining table to display that month’s offerings.