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Today's Wine Tasting Article

The Ideal Wine Cellar: Everything You Need to Get Started

So you've decided to take a large step, and move from wine lover to wine
connoisseur. You are going to buy a wine cellar. This guide will give you all
the information you need to make this purchase.

<STRONG>Wine Bottle Storage
</STRONG>The ideal location for storing wine
is a dark, draftless area that stays at a constant 50-60 degrees, with 60-70
percent humidity. The bottles should be kept on their sides to keep the corks
moist, and should be exposed to limited vibrations. This will ensure that you
will be able to keep bottles at their best for years to come.
thing to consider if you decide to purchase a large wine cellar: make sure the
unit will fit! This sounds obvious, but many times stand-alone wine cellars are
much wider than a standard door. Another thing to think about is weight.
Consider not only the weight of the storage unit, but be sure to calculate 3
pounds each for a standard bottle of wine. You might not want to store your wine
upstairs. This is another reason that wine is typically stored in a cellar.

<STRONG>Types of Wine Cellars</STRONG>
If you are lucky enough to live in
a house, maybe you can use the existing cellar or a spare room, or have one
built. Just be sure not to skimp on building materials - it would be silly to
have 400 bottles of wine crashing to the floor because you wanted to save a few
bucks on thinner wood. Also, be sure the condensation will be able to evaporate;
otherwise, the humidity will increase beyond ideal levels.

<STRONG>Consider the cellar as an investment.
</STRONG>If you don't have a
large amount of space, you can buy a freestanding wine cellar. While not
actually a cellar in the traditional sense, these are large units that can be
stored in a house or apartment. They are available commercially for a wide
variety of prices. Always consider where you are going to be storing the wine.
If it will be kept in your home, you will not need to have as much insulation or
as strong of a cooling unit, but a unit kept in the garage will have to be much
higher quality.

<STRONG>Building Your Own Wine Cellar</STRONG>
best location for the cellar is below the level of the house. If your basement
has outside walls, keep in mind that north-facing walls will get the least
amount of light. Some smaller crawl spaces may not work very well if they
experience extreme changes in temperature. The same goes for a garage. The first
floor of the house can also be used, and as long as the house stays at a fairly
constant room temperature, the cooling unit will not have to work too

The first step in building a wine
cellar is the framing. The outer walls of the basement or room should be framed
with 2" by 6" wood studs. If the floors are cold, use 2" by 4"

The next step in the creation of a
wine cellar is insulation. The room needs to be kept at the most constant
temperature possible. The best type to use is sprayed 2 pound polyurethane,
although less expensive methods can used, especially if the cellar is on the
first floor of the house. Once again, consider the cellar to be an

Don't forget about the door! It needs to have
weather stripping and also be insulated.  Otherwise all the work done to
insulate the walls will be wasted.

</STRONG>To finish
the walls, use a drywall that is resistant to moisture. Other wall material can
be used, but make sure that it will not soak up moisture and that it will not
impart an odor on the wine.

</STRONG>Don't leave the design of the racks until the end.
Start first with this design to make sure that you have enough space for the
number of bottles you'd like to store. A good place to start would be to look at
the smaller racks available at your local wine store. These will give you ideas
on the design you would like. Once again, make sure the construction is sturdy
enough for the weight of the wine.

<STRONG>Temperature and Humidity and Wine
</STRONG>As mentioned before,
the ideal temperature for wine is between 50 and 60 degrees. If the temperature
is too high, it will spoil quickly. If it is too low, it will not age properly.
If the temperature changes often, the cork will expand and contract. This may
lead to air getting into the wine. Keeping this in mind, never buy wine chilled
at a store, as you have no idea how long it has been that way. Also, don't keep
wine in your own refrigerator for more than 1 or 2 days.

Humidity can also damage wine. If the humidity is too low, the cork can dry
out. While a tipped bottle will keep one side moist, the rest of the cork can
become cracked and brittle.

Also, ensure the wine will be kept in a dark place, away from vibrations.
Colored bottles help keep the light out to some extent, but don't rely on the
bottle to keep the light out. Movement may cause the bottles to shift. Wine
needs to stay in contact with the cork so it will not dry out and crack, so
limit the movement the bottles are exposed to.

<STRONG>Wine Cellar Cooling Units</STRONG>
After you cellar is complete,
you can purchase a commercial wine cooling unit. Many of these work similarly to
a window AC unit. They vent through a wall rather than being installed in the
ceiling. However, if you are below ground or for some other reason cannot use a
window unit, there are commercial units that can be installed. These are
slightly more costly, but work well in those situations.

Every wine has an ideal aging time. If your wine cellar is built properly, it
will keep your wine for years to come.

About the Author

Jason Connors is a successful writer and wine connoisseur providing valuable tips and advice on wine cellar design, wine making, and wine basics.

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