Updated: May 8, 2019
Many wine lovers dream of having a wine cellar. But for many of us, a cellar doesn’t fit into our current housing situation. Here we’ll discuss why many modern wine drinkers are turning to a wine closet rather than a full-blown cellar and provide an example of how to organize a wine closet.
Wine Storage Options
Experts recommend that wine be stored somewhere dark and cool to prevent changing the flavor of the grapes.
Many people start with a wine rack as an easy way to store a few bottles of wine. Sometimes people will convert a cabinet or shelf in their pantry as a de facto storage area. While these methods work for many drinkers, long-term wine collectors and people who buy in bulk often turn to more extensive options.
As the bottles start to pile up, people can quickly run out of space to store them. This can lead to storing bottles in places where they might not be in the best conditions. We’ve even heard stories of desperate collectors storing wine under their beds. Wines stored in extreme temperature or humidity can experience premature aging and a decline in quality.
Get more tips on how to properly store wine from Wine Spectator.
Some wine buyers are now creating do-it-yourself wine cellars in their homes. But if you’re not particularly handy, this can be difficult and time-intensive.
In our family, we store our wine in a few different ways. We keep a few in our wine refrigerator and in our regular refrigerator. Since we don’t have space for a full wine cellar, we’re currently keeping overflow bottles in a closet in the basement. This is a storage option that is gaining in popularity: the wine closet.
Why We Chose a Wine Closet
A key benefit of a wine closet is that it can be converted from any existing closet in your home. Ours happens to be in the basement, but it doesn’t have to be. One of our friends lives in a small condo, and he converted his linen closet into a wine closet.
A wine closet is a simple, convenient, and accessible solution to storing and organizing wine. Unlike some of the options we discussed above, you don’t need to buy any extra equipment or make lasting changes to your house or apartment.
All you really need is a closet with strong, sturdy shelves that can handle the weight of the bottles.
While most of the bottles we buy don’t need to be aged, a wine closet can still be an easy way to keep track of them. This way, you can aim to open your wine at its peak drinkability and have the best possible experience.
Breaking Down Our Wine Closet
Our wine closet is a work in progress. We recently had a shelf break, so we’re still in the process of reorganizing and improving the system. Here we’ll go through how we organize the bottles. Feel free to use a system like ours or make up your own.
Whatever you do, write down your system or make sure it is easy to remember. Otherwise, you might forget about a nice bottle stored in the back somewhere. By the time you go to open it, the bottle could be past its prime or starting to turn into vinegar.
Assorted Liquor: Liquor that made its way into the wine closet and continues to live there.
Dessert and Ice Wine: Sweet wines meant to be enjoyed with dessert or after dinner. One ice wine manufacturer we love is Inniskillin, from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.
High End White Wine: High quality white wines, including Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Some of Marla’s favorite high-end whites come from places such as Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma, California and Barboursville Vineyards in Central Virginia.
Everyday White, Sparkling, and Red: Casual, everyday drinking wines. Something relatively inexpensive you could easily find at your local liquor store.
Old World Wines: These are wines from “countries or regions where winemaking (with Vitis vinifera grapes) first originated.” For us, this mostly means wines from Italy and France.
Ultimately, there are many ways that people can store and organize their wine, and there’s no one “correct” way. The one thing we highly advise against is storing wine in your freezer for any extended amount of time. This leads to a pressure build up which can cause bottles to explode.
Once you have a storage system in place, it’s a good idea to consistently check on your wines, especially older bottles. This way, you can keep your inventory up-to-date and avoid misplacing or forgetting any wine.
However you choose to store your wine, we wish you the best and hope you can avoid the tragedy of broken bottles. Please feel free to reach out to us with your wine storage tips and stories!