The Home Wine Cellar

by Rachel Laurendeau on February 13, 2013

Are you a budding wine collector or a seasoned connoisseur? Here are some tips to help you create the perfect wine cellar.

The Perfect Location
The space that you have available in your home as well as the extent of your collection will determine the size and the configuration that you need to dedicate to your wine cellar or wine storage area. In most homes, the basement is the best location as it naturally offers cooler temperatures, higher humidity, and less natural light. Before undertaking an expensive home improvement such as the addition of a wine cellar, be sure to address any foundation repairs that may be required.

A wine cellar can be an elaborate reproduction of the wine caves of France or much simpler storage for a small collection. If you don’t have the space to dedicate an entire section of your basement to the wine cellar, consider all of the options that are available in your home. Turn the space under the stairs or a large walk-in closet into wine storage or install a refrigerated wine cabinet in the dining room or home bar area. The bonus of the wine cabinet is that is takes the guesswork out of temperature and humidity control.

The Perfect Conditions
Temperature control is one of the most important aspects of cellaring wine. You will need to keep the wine cellar at a consistent temperature and avoid fluctuations which can affect the wine’s ageing process. According to, the ideal temperature for storing wine is between 52 and 58˚F. Select a temperature and keep it stable.

Humidity control is another key to proper wine storage. It seems that we usually focus on keeping our basements dry through basement waterproofing, but in this case, you actually want to increase the humidity in the wine cellar so that it is consistently between 60 and 80% to ensure that the corks don’t dry out.

Light control is also important since wine is very sensitive to light. Bright light can have quite an impact on the flavor. Whether you create a true wine cellar or adapt another area of your home for wine storage, be sure that the bottles are away from direct sunlight and bright lights.

In order to achieve the perfect temperature, humidity and light levels, you will need to work with a general contractor or an HVAC specialist who can install special wine cellar cooling units or a wall mounted zoned cooling system. You may also need to add a humidifier to the room. Don’t forget that keeping all of that cool, humid air in the wine cellar means closing off the room with an exterior type door with good weather stripping.

The Perfect Finishes
All of the finishes in the wine cellar must be able to stand up to the temperature and humidity of the space. For that reason, natural stone or tile is an excellent choice for flooring. Just as you will avoid carpet for the flooring, if your wine cellar includes a seating or entertaining area, plush upholstery should not be your first choice as it could get moldy under the humid conditions.

While you don’t need bright lights in the wine cellar, you do need to include ambient lighting so that you can easily find the perfect bottle that you are looking for. You may also want to include lighting to highlight artwork or other decorative features in the space.

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