Your First Wine Cellar

Your First Wine Cellar
Cellar is the name we wine lovers give to the place we store our wines. Whether we have two, twenty, two hundred, a thousand or more bottles we keep them in ‘our cellar’. Few of us are lucky enough to have a real cellar under our houses. Space under the stairs, a spare bedroom or a rack in the kitchen has to suffice.

But supposing you could use a large empty room and had ample funds. How then would you store your wines?

Home living guru Martha Stewart has both and she proudly blogged pictures of her solution*. Looking at it I assumed this was a ‘how not to do it’ piece, but she’s deadly serious. She’s used long flat racks with two bottles a space and others piled on top. Post-it Notes with vintages are stuck on – for the time being.

But how does she find a particular wine in this jumble? Suppose it’s at the bottom of a pile, how is a bottle extracted without moving all those on top?

She could have used racking supporting individual bottles and V shaped bins to hold multiples of the same wine.

Few of us have so much space. My own modest collection is housed in racks in a spare closet, boxes in a downstairs bathroom, and a temperature and humidity controlled wine-cabinet. I also have a few everyday wines in a rack in my kitchen.

Some guides suggest new wine drinkers start their own cellar by buying a mix of wines and suggest a proportion of reds, whites, sparkling, dessert and fortified. I do not agree. I think a cellar should grow organically based on ones own tastes. There’s no point in buying and storing wine that you’re not going to want to drink.

The problem most of us find is that we end up with too much wine. We can’t resist when there’s an offer too good to miss, or the chance to buy the last case of a favourite vintage.

New, and not so new, drinkers should be aware that tastes change with age and experience and the wine that you raved over ten years ago you just can’t face today.

If you drink one bottle a week at home, then a case of 12 represents a quarter of your annual consumption and is probably too much to buy .a dozen of the same wine.

As long as you have a bottle of palatable wine available should you want wine when the shops are shut or you can’t get out, then your cellar has done its job.


Talk about wine on our forum.

Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape.

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