A luxury that we all dream of. Films and novels often depict old houses having passages and underground storage for a savoured selection of wines, but why not make it a reality? It’s quite possible and not as time consuming as you may think. Many wines are best served chilled so the basement is an ideal location to store great wine. As heat rises upwards, the coldest place for storage will be at the bottom of your home.
Just because you have a basement, however, may not necessarily mean that it is suitable to turn into a wine cellar. Heat is one element. Although heat rises, the room needs to stay chilled in order to keep the wine at the best temperature. Radiators aren’t ideal for the environment but insulation in the walls will be sufficient. The structure of the basement also needs to be strong and safe – mainly for you, rather than the wine.
Once you’re happy that your basement is sufficient to house a wine cellar, it’ll be time to begin measuring up and drawing out some plans for how you’re going to lay out your cellar. (eg how many bays or shelving units you are likely to need plus any lighting requirements should be considered when drawing up the plan).
There are specialist firms who will convert your basement for you, of course. (And certainly you need to get specialists in for things such as basement waterproofing). However, once you have a watertight environment, it can be much more satisfying to build your own cellar from scratch. Strong, sturdy timber or cast iron, which ever you decide on, can be adapted to your design and needs. You should ensure you don’t rush things, of course, as by carrying out all the preparations correctly it saves a lot of time and resources in the long run – especially when you find your perfectly-built shelves don’t actually fit in the space available at some point in the future!
Something to bear in mind is that by building individual racks rather than a wall length rack, if you choose to have a change in layout at some point, with smaller racks it is much easier to do so – with a wall length rack there is no change available. Once construction is under way you can decide how to display the bottles. Having them standing may be a good option as it is quick and easy to select a suitable wine as all labels are facing outwards. However, if they’re laying down you can store more bottles in the same place and this is often the recommended method for storage by wine merchants.
Either way you choose, your cellar is going to look fantastic. If using wood for your wine racks use some coats of varnish or protector to ensure the wood will last as long as it possibly can. A couple of coats should be sufficient, but there’s no harm in using a third just in case.
Final step – enjoy your wine!