Cellars and climate-controlled cabinets put wine storage in the limelight
Wine storage has come of age – it's no longer enough to simply stash a few bottles in the basement.
Today, it's all about dedicated wine cellars, decorative racking systems and climate-controlled wine cabinets.
Increasingly, designers and architects are being asked to incorporate wine storage into a design. The winning kitchen in the last NKBA Kitchen of the Year Awards, designed by Robin Caudwell of Design CK, features a separate wine cellar. And this is typical of the trend.
Some homeowners take it even further. A major house renovation in Auckland's Herne Bay, designed by architect Darren Jessop for a client in the hospitality industry, features a climate-controlled wine cellar beneath the kitchen. A large glass trap-door in the floor allows a view of the cellar, which is accessed by stairs leading down from the trap-door.
Showcasing wine doesn't necessarily require a cellar of course. In fact, many people want their wine displayed where they can see it.
Racking systems, such as the Vintage View system supplied by Wine on the Side, let you see the wine at a glance. Company owner Ken Morrison says labels can be easily spotted, so the bottle you are searching for can be found easily. But the aesthetics are also a big selling point.
"Many systems are designed to store wine bottles in the garage or under the stairs where people can't see them, but this system is designed for the dining room or kitchen. It creates an everchanging work of art for your wall, as bottles are removed and replaced," he says.
"It's also space saving, as everything can be up off the floor."
Tony Thomas, director of Eurocave New Zealand, says his company has noticed an increased demand for the European Modulosteel racking system.
"This system has a very contemporary look, and people love the point of difference," he says. "It's also a very practical way to store wine – it can be teamed with a system to store boxes, for those who prefer to keep you wine in the original wood case, which looks fantastic."
Both the Eurocave steel and wood racking systems are modular, so can be added to as a wine collection expands.
Other options include wine cabinets. The market for these has grown enormously over the past five years, to the extent that local company Fisher & Paykel has now introduced wine cabinets to its product range.
There is also an increasing market for wine conditioners, which sit on the wall and can create the right environment to store wine in your basement or other room. "More people are starting to realise that if they want to keep their wine for a longish period, they need to store it properly," says Thomas. "And increasingly, they are wanting to do it in style."
Thomas says his company receives a lot of enquiries from the Queenstown region, which he puts down to two key factors.
"Firstly, there are a lot of high-value residential builds in the area, and overseas buyers who want to build wine cellars into their homes – they want to do it properly. And secondly, there are wild temperature fluctuations in Central Otago. Wine needs to be stored at around 13 degrees, but the temperature there can go down to sub-zero or right up to 40 degrees, and it's bad for wine to be exposed to those extremes."
Thomas says his personal preference is probably a wine cabinet. "Wine cabinets emulate the conditions of a French limestone cave, with high humidity, a constant temperature and no exposure to UV light.
"Unlike a cellar, you can take a wine cabinet with you if you move house. And when you are selling, it's possible potential owners may not require a wine cellar and may even see it as a negative, rather than positive feature."
Rob and Paul Biegel of Vintec Transtherm say many people may not be aware of the problems involved in storing wine in unsuitable areas.
"Many clients tell us they have been storing wine in the garage, because it is dark and cool. But they forget that their car is hot when it comes into the garage and the temperature fluctuates greatly," says Paul Biegel. "Many homeowners also notice that labels get destroyed quite quickly when wine is stored under the house, due to the humidity."
Wine cabinets not only provide the ideal temperature for storing wine, but also provide the right humidity level of 55 per cent. And the wood racks minimise any vibrations that can impact on wine quality over time. Many cabinets have dual zones, so some wine can also be stored at drinking temperature, while other bottles are cellared.
There are also tall multi-zone Vintec cabinets for keeping wines at different serving temperatures. These provide a graduated temperature from top to bottom, with white wines stored at the bottom where it is around 6 degrees, and full-bodied reds stored at 17 to 19 degrees.
Biegel says underbench wine cabinets in black are the biggest seller at present, with many households choosing matching side-by-side beverage centres for storing beer, soft drinks and juices at the normal refrigerator temperature of 2 to 4 degrees.
And if you are wondering if wines with screw caps need cellaring, the answer is yes. Screw caps don't prevent temperature changes. Rob Biegel points out that most wines coming out of France, Italy, Spain, North America and South Africa still have corks, so bottles need to be stored on their side at the correct humidity level to keep the corks moist.
PERFECT DRINKING TEMPERATURES
Vintec recommends the following temperature guidelines for drinking wine.
* 17-19 degrees: Full-bodied reds (Bordeaux, cabernet, shiraz, zinfandel)
* 14-16 degrees: Lighter-bodied reds (Burgundy, pinot noir, merlot)
* 12-13 degrees: Full-bodied whites (grand cru Burgundy, chardonnay)
* 10-12 degrees: Rose, semillon, viognier, Sauterne
* 8-10 degrees: Riesling, verdelho, vintage Champagne
* 7-8 degrees: Dessert wine
* 6-8 degrees: Sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, non-vintage Champagne