Unless everyone could have a vineyard in Napa Valley, storing wine in the house can seem as daunting as determining the authenticity of a labeled Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. But it’s not very difficult to create small-scale wine servers or storage spaces. By meeting ideal specifications, wine can be stored – and enjoyed – in the comforts of home. All that’s necessary is knowledge of the requirements, and a definite list of preferences.
Whether wine will be stored in a basement, cellar, or on a customized server, the same major considerations are maintained in preserving the quality of wine: humidity, temperature, and position of storage.
Humidity – It is ideal for wines to be kept in a slightly humid atmosphere to ensure that the cork stoppers on the wine bottles do not dry out. If they do, the wine comes into contact with air, oxidizes, and loses its quality and taste. A too-moist atmosphere, on the other hand, may damage the labels on wine bottles, or attract growth of microorganisms within the storage space. That is why wine servers are made of solid wood – it is porous enough to retain moisture, but easy to keep clean, cool, and dry.
Temperature – Ideally, most wines should be stored in slightly cool surroundings – but not refrigerated – and away from direct light, which can heat the wine and alter its quality. It’s not ideal to store wine inside normal dining room furniture such as cupboards or exposed shelves. Cupboards would always be opened to get other items from time to time, and open shelves are exposed to daylight and sudden changes in temperature, depending on the weather. Wine should be kept in an exclusive space like a room or a dedicated solid wood cabinet.
Position of storage – Champagne can be stored upright, but experts recommend storing other wines at a slightly oblique angle instead of upright or down on its side. This orientation of the bottle allows the wine to touch the bottom part of the cork. The cork needs to be moist, so that it would not become dry. At the same time, this position will not displace the air bubble, or ullage, from the top of the liquid, because it helps wine mature and age better. This is not so achievable – nor secure – with flat surfaces or shelves found on usual dining room furniture or household storage spaces. It is best to have a wine server customized to securely store wines at an angled orientation.
Some minor considerations can also be taken into account, like the vibration, or stability, of the wine bottles. It would be advisable to store bottles in tight or secure fittings to limit disturbing the contents, or the risk of the bottles breaking. The security of the wine’s location should also be considered, especially if the wine owner has rare and very expensive varieties of wines in his collection.
With these considerations in mind, the next step is determining how to acquire and set up a wine server at home.
Wine Servers as Solid and Lasting Investments
In the city, there are some local wine cellars that offer to keep customers’ wines at ideal conditions, for a fee. But it’s actually less stressful to just recreate the ideal conditions at home.
Usually, people purchase wines only when they are going to consume them immediately, like for a special occasion or holiday. If this is the case, it is perfectly okay to simply store the wine in the box or packaging it was bought in, and kept in ordinary spaces. Short-term exposure to elements does not have such detrimental effects in wine.
Good wines, however, are investments, and they increase in value and quality over time. If the wine owner wants to preserve a collection of these wines, proper space should be allocated for the bottles.
A cellar, stairwell cupboard, or wardrobe would already be good examples of spaces to store wine. If they are available, the remaining step would be to have racks built from solid wood to position the wine properly.
Wine racks made from other materials, or light wood, are already widely available in home appliance stores. Most of these options are practical, but they are usually ideal only for short-term storage, or for wines which shall be consumed immediately anyway.
If space is a constraint, or if wine is being brought out frequently for entertaining or celebrations, a more practical option would be to install a wine server in the dining room, hall, or kitchen. It can be customized depending on the size of the wine collection.
It is up to the wine owner to decide whether to hire professionals or to personally install a wine storage area. But the quality of wine servers or wine racks depends heavily on the type of wood that will be used for construction. It should be made to last long, resist wear and tear, and be beautiful enough to match the rest of the homeowner’s dining room furniture and furnishings.
Wood Options for Wine Storage
Solid wood is really the best material to build wine servers or wine racks, just like most dining room furniture. They are long-lasting, easy to repair, and their aesthetic never goes out of style. Wood naturally changes color over time, due to natural weathering. It also takes easily to manual “staining” or darkening to achieve a more rustic or vintage appearance.
Solid wood is also more ideal than other materials because it is more resistant to temperature changes. However, it is also prone to natural damages like weathering, organisms, or getting scrapes, cuts, or gouges on its surface. Hardwood would usually be resistant to these agents if it is pre-treated.
Any type of hardwood is ideal for creating a wine server, as long as it is of good quality. It is also important to have the wood treated with a waterproof finish to make it resistant to stains and damage. The choice of wood to use for servers or racks depends on the wine owner’s preferences for color, texture, appearance, and finish, just like choosing any other dining room furniture.
The strength and hardness of the wood will depend on the function and the size of the collection it will hold. For wine racks, it will be sufficient to use sensible and durable wood, but for wine servers, more durable wood types are necessary if it will hold not only wine bottles but wine accessories, all at once. It might also house a heavy cooler if the server will be placed above ground, and shall be prone to warm temperature.
Here are some examples of popular choices for wood material for wine servers. These hardwoods are the types already available in wood stores or specialty shops. They are also types that will be offered by professional cabinetmakers. For discerning wine owners, rare and special wood can be an option, but the priority is really the strength and durability of the solid wood.
Cherry – This reddish-brown hardwood is popular because of its even texture and propensity to look beautiful after “shining” or buffing. Compared to other wood types, cherry greatly changes in color through age and natural sunlight, eventually gaining shades of a deep red-brown coloration.
Oak – Oak is an extremely sturdy and solid type of hardwood. Its variety of Red Oak is the most common choice for dining room furniture and other wood furnishings. It is more durable than other solid wood types, and is more resistant, although not immune, to coloring over time.
Hickory – Hickory is the hardest and most solid type of hardwood easily available in the market. Unlike other types, it naturally comes in varied shades (like medium blonde to brown), with light and dark patches appearing on a single surface. It changes in color substantially.
Walnut – Walnut is slightly uncommon compared to other wood types. It also has a rougher texture compared to other solid wood. It is much darker in color compared to other wood types, and it changes in color slightly through aging.
Hard Maple – Hard maple is a rough wood, and is lighter in texture compared to other types, so it doesn’t take to artificial “staining” or coloration as well as other types. Its natural shade can even grow lighter over time as it ages. But it is very durable and resistant to cuts, gouges, and scrapes.
Soft Maple – The natural coloring of soft maple is irregular. Although it is off-white in color, it usually has a discernible grain pattern on its surface. It is ideal for storage interiors, or else stained with a dark color.
A serious wine collector can enjoy the benefits of a well-built wine rack to display and store their entire collection securely. Individuals who enjoy good times with their friends and relatives can better entertain with strategically located wine servers that can hold not only wine bottles, but also wine accessories like glasses, decanters, cork openers, and other things.
Whichever situation applies, the ideal options can always be determined by doing some research, and by exploring all the choices given to a wine owner. A well built wine rack or wine server can become a beautiful piece of dining room furniture or hallway furnishing. It can last to become an integral part of memorable happenings, and it can be passed down from generation to generation, as an heirloom.