Professional wine cellars are great, but they’re not a necessity. Learn how to store your wine simply with our DIY Wine Room guide.
Does this sound familiar? You LOVE wine. You love it so much that you’ve collected quite a few bottles and you’re really proud of your collection. In fact, it’s extensive enough that you can select a bottle that’s perfect for whatever meal, celebration, or occasion that might pop up. The only problem? Your “wine cellar” or “wine room” is just a kitchen cabinet, random corner, or even a spare fridge.
We get it! Having a full-blown wine cellar might seem a bit excessive if you’re not collecting and storing hundreds of bottles in your magnificent Tuscan villa. News flash! You don’t have to bring in a construction crew to create a wine cellar. Also, you don’t need hundreds of bottles before you NEED a wine cellar. ALSO, you don’t have to use an underground wine cellar to properly store and mature your wine.
Sure, you COULD spend thousands of dollars renovating your basement. You COULD wait until your collection is so big that you’re tripping over wine bottles. Or…you could follow our DIY Wine Storage guide and create wine storage that’s perfect for you.
Wine Room vs. Wine Cellar
For many individuals, having a traditional wine cellar just isn’t an option. That’s why many opt for a “wine room” over a “wine cellar.” While their purposes are relatively the same, a cellar is almost always underground while a wine room can be almost any room in the main part of a building.
Both should still adhere to the same features we’ll mention below, but many wine rooms are designed to be aesthetically pleasing. If you’ve ever visited a fine dining establishment and caught a glimpse of their beautiful wine room, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
That being said, it’s important for us to specify that our DIY Wine Storage guide is for a Wine Room instead of a Wine Cellar.
What Makes Good Wine Storage?
Most wine doesn’t technically need to be stored in a cellar. That’s because the majority of wine purchased is intended to be consumed immediately or shortly after purchasing. If, however, you purchase wine that’s meant to age for quite some time, you should “cellar” it or store it in a wine room so its full flavors and aromas can bloom as they were intended to. So, what makes good wine storage?
Wine storage should be a space that’s dark, well ventilated (but not drafty), and isn’t subject to outside noises, smells, or vibrations. These conditions are essential because they protect your wine and help it mature properly.
Ventilation, for example, is important because a damp environment may contaminate wine with a musty smell. For that reason, high-end storage often has some type of digital system to make monitoring humidity as simple as possible.
Other important items include:
- No airtight corks on fine vintage bottles. Many of these wines need to “breathe” in order to mature properly. That also means you DON’T want to store anything in the same space that could contaminate your wine with unwanted smells (paint, cleaning products, etc.)
- Little to no light. Light exposure, particularly sunlight, can cause wines to mature too fast. Good wine storage should be as dark as possible.
- A carefully chosen floor. There’s a reason many of the oldest cellars have bare soil for flooring. It’s a great environment for wine! However, that’s not always possible. If the floor is concrete you’ll want to pay special attention to the humidity.
- Temperature, temperature, temperature! We’ve already mentioned this briefly, but temperature fluctuations are problematic for wine. The optimal temperature for long-term aging is roughly 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).
DIY Wine Room
If you’ve made it this far and realized you MIGHT not need a full-blown wine cellar, we’ve still got your back! Read How to Properly Store Wine for insight into simply storing your few bottles of wine for optimal flavor and aroma.
However, if you’re committed to leveling up your wine game, then a DIY Wine Room might be just the thing! Plus, while you can absolutely devote an entire room to this venture, you could also simply use a closet or unused space underneath stairs for wine storage. Just make sure to avoid spaces with no temperature control, too much direct sunlight, or areas that would be difficult to insulate and seal.
- Select your space
- Create an air-resistant and moisture-resistant barrier. When installing this barrier, install it along the walls, ceiling, and floor on the warm side of the storage unit. This prevents warm ambient air from entering.
- Insulate the walls, ceiling, and floor to avoid unwanted temperature changes. This goes for wine storage that involves cooling units and those without cooling units.
- Cover walls, ceiling, and floor with your finish of choice! Just make sure to choose a material that’s resistant to mold and mildew and that you can easily add shelves and/or racks to.
- Add shelves or racks of choice.
- Add the same barrier, insulation, and finish to the inside of your door.
- Close the door and allow the space to adjust temperature and humidity.
- Add wine!
Advanced Wine Storage
- Add your wine refrigeration unit AFTER you’ve installed flooring but BEFORE you finish the walls.
- Add a hygrometer and thermometer to monitor humidity and temperature.
Still have questions? Want specific details on materials and techniques? We HIGHLY recommend checking out Cabin DIY’s How To Build A Wine Cellar guide. They break it down for novices while also offering advanced techniques for those who want more high-end storage options.
Don’t Forget to ENJOY Your Wine!
Aging fine wines is a beautiful way to celebrate both your love of wine AND to commemorate special occasions. But don’t feel bad if your wine preferences lean towards younger wines! Despite what some may say, there’s really no wrong way to enjoy wine.