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Rack 'em up

Keep your wines award-winning with stellar storage

Published: Thursday, July 3, 2014 10:08 a.m. CDT

There is a lot that goes on from the moment grapes are picked from the vine to the instant the cork is popped in a wine bottle, and whether it is a 10-year-old Cabernet or a one-year-old bottle of Moscato, storage is a key factor in keeping that bottle of wine fresh.

Pam Kopp from Lakeshore Wine Cellars is sharing her wine storage tips to help keep your collection tasting great until the very last drop is finished.

Basic Storage Wine is a very finicky beverage, and there are many tricks and tips to keep it fresh while storing it for extensive periods of time. Climate-controlled wine cellars are the most ideal way to store wine, but if that’s not an option, there are some basic helpful tips to maintain its freshness. For starters, light and wine do not mix. The sunlight can spoil the wine and cause it to become undrinkable.

Most people opt to store wines in basements and cool, dark places because throughout history, wines have been preserved in caves and cellars. One other positive to basement storage is that there are generally limited windows, which also helps preserve the wine.

“Light is not good for the wine, so when we build a cellar, we try to enclose the room so it’s like the inside of a refrigerator,” Kopp says. “When there’s a window it’s like the seal is broken.”

Storing wine on its side or upside down is also ideal, because the wine is touching the cork, which keeps the cork moist and prevents it from dying out. If the cork dries out, air can enter the bottle and spoil the wine. Therefore, after opening a bottle of wine, it is best to finish it within the week for the best taste.

Climate Control One of the main reasons most people opt to install wine cellars or utilize special wine refrigerators are because it’s easier to regulate climate and temperature controls.

“Insulation, vapor barriers and humidity all play an important roles in building a wine cellar,” Kopp says. Regular air conditioning units won’t cut it for wine cellars, as they tend to dry out the corks and damage the wine. Wine fridge units built specifically for storing vino keep the humidity inside the cellar and ensure the corks stay moist for proper storage.

“You really want to choose a unit specific for wine cellar because humidity is very important,” she adds. “The most important thing is that it will maintain wine at a steady temp.”

Kopp sets most of her wine cellars in the range of 55-58 degrees for both reds and whites. They can be stored at the same temperature, and if desired, white wines can be chilled even further prior to serving.

Building a Personalized Wine Cellar For those hardcore wine aficionados with extensive expensive collections, a wine cellar might be the best way to go.

Kopp has been designing personalized wine cellars for 13 years for venues as large as Binny’s to pantries-turned-wine cellars in homes.

“The average residential wine cellar with a chiller holds right around 1,000 bottles of wine, but we can do as little as a hundred,” she says. “We can turn closets into cellars or make a beautiful cellar in a large, dedicated space.”

Depending on the amount of space available, Kopp can design pretty much anything that a homeowner wants. Each wine cellar is catered to individual needs, and after taking care of the necessities like the vapor barrier and insulation; homeowners can help pick out the decorative ends of things like racking, flooring and the door.

“The cost really depends on so many things, including how many bottles, what structure is already built and whether the cellar is there to entertain or simply to store wine,” she adds. “We can design a wine cellar to fit any budget.”

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