Wine Cellar Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions about Wine Cellars
How do I know if I need a wine cellar? What is the best temperature at which to store my wine? How do I know if my wine is stored properly? You have questions, we have answers.
How do I know if I need a wine cellar?
If you love wine and are planning to buy and store more wine than you will drink in the short term, then some sort of cellar is a necessity. Cellaring wine in a controlled environment allows it the proper conditions to mature. Your significant investment will be protected. You will have the peace of mind knowing that your wine will be in excellent drinking condition when you decide to enjoy it.
At what temperature should I store my wine?
Wine should be stored at a temperature between 55-58 degrees. However, frequent significant fluctuations in temperature are more harmful than a constant temperature slightly above or below the ideal. At a slightly lower temperature wine will age more slowly. It will age more quickly at a slightly higher temperature. But be cautious–wine doesn’t have to get terribly hot to be completely ruined. A summer afternoon in your un-insulated garage will cook your delicate Pinot Noir!
What about Humidity?
Wine should be kept at a humidity level between 50–70 %. A constant humidity will keep the cork intact and help protect your wine from the intrusion of unwanted air as it ages.
What else should I know about storing my wine?
- Wine bottles should be stored at a slant, with at least 50% of the cork being in contact with the wine. This will keep the cork moist and swollen, preventing oxidation. The main cause of wine spoilage is too much air has found its way into the bottle.
- Wine should not be stored in direct sunlight. The sun’s ultraviolet rays change the components of the wine resulting in bad odors. Sun will also raise the temperature of the wine which causes oxidation and evaporation.
How long will my wine last if stored properly?
Wines are vastly different in structure, so the longevity of wines differs greatly. A major element in the aging of wine is the amount of tannins present. Generally, the more tannins, the longer you will age a wine. Red wines contain more tannins than white, so most reds will age longer than most white wines.
How do I know if my wine has been stored improperly?
- Check to make sure your wine bottle is full. The wine should reach half way up the neck of the bottle. If not, evaporation and oxidation may have occurred.
- Also check your cork to see if it is bulging out of the bottle. If so, premature aging has taken place, due to unwanted air getting into the bottle.
- It is impossible to know for sure before opening and tasting a bottle of wine if it has been stored correctly. One advantage of owning your own cellar is that you can purchase a young (and relatively inexpensive) bottle of wine now and know how it has been aged when you open and drink it (as a bottle of much greater value!) later on.
I don’t have a basement. How can I build a wine cellar?
Everybody’s situation is different. We do build some wine cellars in basements. But we are just as likely to convert a bedroom, laundry room or a closet under the stairs. We have also added rooms onto houses to store wine and built custom, free-standing units that can move with you.
How can a room with a window be turned into a wine cellar?
- We have developed a process for sealing off a window—it looks like it has a white blind on it from the exterior of the house, and the window is not damaged. Later on, the process is reversible if someone wants to re-convert the room.
- Alternatively, we have installed shutters on the inside of windows in wine rooms, and even painted murals on the closed shutters to create a desirable interior view. If you have an extra room, we can definitely figure out how it can be used to properly store wine.
How much does a wine cellar cost? What factors affect the cost?
There are lots of variables in the cost of the wine cellars we build, as in any construction project.
- The size and storage capacity of the cellar is an obvious variable.
- Cost varies based on the type of space we are working with; for example, whether we are beginning with finished space in your home, an unfinished basement area, or adding space onto your home from the ground up.
- The finish materials we use on floors, walls and countertops will have a major effect on the final project cost.
- Racking costs will vary based on the materials and finishes used, as well as the layout chosen.
- Many wine cellars go beyond the basics of wine storage, with murals and specialty finishes, specialty lighting, custom glass and custom doors.
- We include space in many wine cellars for entertaining areas with amenities like sinks, dishwashers, pantries and refrigerators.
What happens if there is construction involved in my project?
- West Coast Wine Cellars is a licensed & bonded contractor (Oregon CCB number 191442).
- We have our own construction crew, so we can handle your entire construction or remodel process, from design through to completion.
- If you have a designer/architect/builder already, we are happy to work as part of that team as well.
Do you design wine cellars for clients outside Oregon?
- We can work with distant clients by communicating by telephone and e-mail. We can receive and transmit information by using drawings and photographs, doing the design work here and reviewing the designs with you via conference calls. In most cases, we will work with a contractor we can trust in your area to do the construction and installation of the project.
- For lesser distances or remote areas, travel by our designer and installers will be priced into the job.
What material is your racking made of?
Although most of our clients choose natural or oiled redwood racking for its traditional appeal as a wine cellar building material, we can build racking from a variety of materials, including a wide variety of other woods in other finishes, metal, or whatever suits the desire and budget of the client.
What style of racking is best for storing wine?
Using several kinds of racking generally makes a better appearance and is cost effective too. We work with you to determine the best blend of storage solutions for your individual collection, but we also suggest that you have some storage flexibility built into your cellar, to allow for changes in your needs over time.
Is all racking the same?
- Racking can differ in construction, depth, width and strength, as well as material.
- Kit racking can be an economic alternative to custom racking, but spaces can be too narrow to accommodate Pinot Noir and Champagne bottles, and it is not strong enough to install over 6’-0” in height.
What are some of the specific construction requirements for a wine cellar?
In any wine cellar, the main concern is controlling the temperature and humidity. The following guidelines should be met:
- Insulation of walls: R-19 minimum
- Insulation of ceiling: R-30 minimum
- Vapor barrier: 6 mil polyethylene on all walls and ceiling, installed on the “warm” side (or back side) of the insulation.
- Flooring: brick, stone or tile are excellent options, as are wood and cork. All applications need to be sealed.
- Wall covering: Standard sheetrock can be used, but green board is ideal to prevent mold in high humidity.
- Cellar door: Exterior grade doors are needed with weather stripping and plate seal. Double pane glass is required if using glass doors.
Ready to Maximize Your Wine Investment and enjoy your wine, your way?
Contact West Coast Wine Cellars today to discuss design and construction of your custom cellar. Unsure if a custom wine cellar is right for you?
Let’s talk. We’ll answer any questions you may have.
01606 SW Carey Lane, Portland, OR 97219
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