How do I store wine? We meet the cellar fitting experts

A few days ago I popped round to Thirsty Rich’s allotment to help out with a few chores. We needed a rake from the shed. It took a while to open the door – hop bines swarmed around the timber slats, fixing it shut much more effectively than the rusty lock on my shed – but once inside I was met with a HORRIFIC SIGHT. Scattered among the tools, buckets and bits of broken wood were bottles of home brew. Ciders, beers and a dusty bottle of my 2012 vintage elderberry wine. Not the best environment for quality booze, especially considering the long, hot summer we’ve just been through.

To find out more about how precious wines should be kept we caught up with a company called Wine Racks UK. They provide bespoke wine storage solutions, fitting out cellars and supplying some of the finest Wine Racks in the UK and beyond. Besides asking them about ideal storage conditions we were also interested in their ‘dream cellar’ contents – surprisingly, my elderberry wine didn’t get a mention…

How did your Wine Racks business start out?
A family-run initiative, Wine Racks began in 1977, before expanding into the thriving business it is today. The company started out when the father of founders Adam and William Moore wanted a wine rack, so Adam decided to make him one. Friends of their parents were impressed and wanted one as well, so Adam donned his best suit and visited catering companies and wine merchants locally. He soon realised that there was a market for his wine racks, so he worked hard and visited companies throughout the UK to get the brand out there. 

Wine Racks now not only supply private individuals & companies throughout the UK, but regularly export to Europe and other parts of the World. 

What’s the best way to store wine?
Ideal home storage conditions is lying the bottle down horizontally, in a cool, humidity-controlled, dimly-lit room which isn’t prone to temperature fluctuations or vibrations. The basement is, therefore, the usual choice and the most popular place for us to fit wine racks or entire cellars. 

If you’re serious about collecting wine then it’s also a good idea to invest in a wine cellar cooling unit, which keeps the room temperature constant and cools the air gradually, whilst maintaining the humidity in the air.

You produce bespoke wine racks in various materials – are there any materials that are better than others?
Yes, certainly. The cheaper wooden materials, such as cedar, fir and poplar are best avoided because they can taint the wine’s natural taste and aroma – a nightmare for any serious collector! 

Popular wooden materials like pine or oak are used for racks because they’re strong and remain durable in humid conditions which are perfect for cellars and they also don’t tend to crack or produce mildew. However, if your wine storage space is overly damp, wood might not be appropriate and we might recommend using metal racks instead. 

Metal racks are just as good but they can be difficult to get an exact fit, especially in spaces which are shaped awkwardly.

What’s the most complicated cellar you’ve fitted out?
There are a couple that come to mind. The first was an ice house that was circular in shape and had to be accessed from the top, using a scissor lift. The wine racks had to fit around the entire circumference and it was difficult to make the wine racks complete the circle, as you can only work with full bottle holes.  

The second one was a hexagonal shaped wine cellar and the wine racks had to follow the shape of the cellar. The angles were not consistent, which meant that each angle had to be cut on-site to achieve a perfect fit!

What’s the oddest thing you’ve found in a cellar?
We went to fit out one wine cellar and arrived to find three frogs had made it their home and were comfortably living there. As the wine cellar fitter was a bit squeamish, he asked the owner to remove them. The owner then had to ask his daughter to remove them! Luckily, the frogs were rehomed safely in a new environment.

Name five wines that would be stored in your dream cellar?

  • Jeroboam of Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill Champagne
  • St Emilion Cheval Blanc
  • Chateau Latour
  • Chateau Margaux
  • Taylors 1963 vintage port

 

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