Successfully Cellaring Your Holiday Wine Purchases

08 Oct, 2013

You’ve tasted the wines in glorious sunshine, met the grower and maker, and ordered cases to be sent home. But have you considered how best to store your holiday purchases, so that every mouthful is like that first? Wine is a living product and as such needs to be treated within certain parameters to ensure it is enjoyed at its best. Creating the right conditions is the key to prolonging the life of your wine, so if you remember temperature, humidity, light level and vibrations you’ll be on the right track.

Temperature is the most critical aspect in storing wine; if it becomes too warm it speeds up the ageing process and the wine will lose its vibrancy, becoming old and flabby. Wine is happy in environments where any temperature changes are very gradual, such as slow fluctuations between summer and winter temperatures in below-ground cellars. The ideal temperature range is around 8-18°C and, as long as there are no sudden fluctuations, the wine will be happy at either end of the scale. 

Humidity is also key to wine storage. By storing wine bottles horizontally and in a slightly damp atmosphere the corks aren’t able to dry out and so air can’t enter the bottle and oxidise the wine. This is of course a balancing act in itself as an environment that is too humid can damage the bottle labels, and so identification and display are affected. One may assume that the success of selling on the wine may also be hindered, but a collection for investment should be stored in a bonded warehouse rather than at home, to avoid paying duty and VAT but also to help prove the provenance of the wine.

Direct sunlight on wine creates adverse chemical reactions that can spoil it.  Aside from the packaging of wine, often in dark green bottles, which helps to prevent the impact of light, collectors can also protect the wine by ensuring it is kept in a dark environment. Ideally, this should be within professional storage, whether that be a wine cabinet or a cellar, as both have been designed to eliminate this risk.

Vibration of wine is likely to accelerate the ageing process, as any movement disturbs the sediments in the bottle and disrupts how it would age naturally. A stable environment is therefore critical so that, once laid down, the wine is then not disturbed until it is ready to drink. Above-ground storage, such as cabinets, is subject to everyday floor movements as residents walk around, whereas below-ground cellars are more stable as they are cushioned by the surrounding earth.

Spiral Cellars has been providing large-scale wine storage for more than 30 years, from its signature cellars to bespoke wine rooms. Originally invented by a Frenchman who recognised that few modern French homes had cellars, the idea for the Spiral Cellar was borne from a trip to the Pont du Gard where the spiral staircases provided instant inspiration. Now there are more than 3,000 Spiral Cellars in the ground in the UK alone.

There are many reasons why wine lovers choose a Spiral Cellar over other storage options, from its great capacity and space-saving integration into the home, to its natural conditions and pure wow factor. Many clients also see their Spiral Cellar as an opportunity to try new wines and to even travel to wine destinations to explore their palate and stock the cellar!

We have clients across the UK, in period properties and new builds, adding extensions or simply their cellar. The product has evolved in design quite dramatically from its first inception and you’ll now find five different types of cellars, topped with a range of timber, recessed and glazed trap doors. Some clients prefer their Spiral Cellar to be a hidden secret whilst others make it the focus of the room. All have one thing in common though: their choice provides large, practical, aesthetic wine storage that works.

Meet a member of the Spiral Cellars club

Many people dream of building their own home and pulling together years of ideas and must-have elements to create a space that works for their lifestyle. One of Spiral Cellars’ clients has done exactly this, using his skills as a trained architect and project manager to build a stunning property with many standout features, from the spiral staircase and Spiral Cellar in the entrance hallway to the open plan kitchen space and separate office.

The Facts:

  • 2m deep White Spiral Cellar
  • Recessed trap door for timber
  • Fitted by Spiral Cellars, ground works and shuttering completed by the client’s contractor
  • LEDs for the White Spiral Cellar
  • Stores up to 1,190 bottles (slightly less if using as dual-purpose wine and larder storage)
  • This cellar and door combination starts at £20,148 plus VAT

Read more here.

Written by: Lucy Hargreaves, Director of Spiral Cellars.

At Winerist, we are excited to be working with English wineries now! Contact us if you would like to arrange a winery visit, day tour, or all-inclusive experience.

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