Cultivating an appreciation of wine is a growing trend in the US. Shops specializing in wine are appearing throughout the country, not just in the traditional vineyard regions of California, Oregon, and Virginia. People who may not have grown up around wine are now drawn not only to sampling but also to collecting it. Tasting parties and special wine pairing events are a common theme in restaurants and in the home. With this comes an increase in interest in home storage. While proper storage can help wines become even more exquisite, improper storage can lead to ruined wine.
A freestanding, temperature controlled wine rack is ideal, but much more expensive than a simple wooden or metal wine rack. However, it is not necessary to spend several thousand dollars to enjoy wine in your home. If you can find a dark, cool, slightly humid location in your house, you will be able to then select a simple rack that will keep your wine for years to come. The ideal location will be 50-60 degrees, with constant 60-70 percent humidity.
Wine Rack Kits
One way to cut down on cost is to build your own wine rack. For first-time enthusiasts, it is probably best to stick to a wine rack kit. There are many considerations when designing a wine rack, and starting from a kit will keep the wine in the rack where it should be – the last thing you want is the whole thing to come crashing to the floor due to a miscalculation.
There are many commercially available wooden racks that offer snap-together assembly, requiring nothing more than a hammer. These inexpensive kits are usually made of redwood or pine, and can be bought for under $35.
The most important thing to keep in mind when building your own wine rack is to consider the strength of the rack. A bottle of wine weighs approximately 3 pounds, so the weight adds up quickly. Make sure not only the rack but the floor itself can handle the weight, keeping in mind the weight of the rack.
If the kit is wooden, make sure the wood has been dried properly (no more than 14% moisture), and that the cross sections are no less than 3/8″ (1/2″ is better).
Also, make sure the wine is stored horizontally so that the wine stays in contact with the cork. A dry cork signifies that the wine has been damaged.
Wine Rack Capacity
How much wine do you need?
While having 1500 bottles of wine on hand sounds exciting, most people have neither the space nor the wallet to support such a venture. If you would like to have something for everyday, a 15-30 capacity rack should meet your needs. That way, you can have 2 bottles of sparkling wine, 3 bottles of red (merlot or cabernet), 3 bottles of white (chardonnay, pinot grigio, or white zinfandel), one bottle each of red and white cooking wine, and still have room for a few special bottles that you plan to let age for years. Also keep a nice red ready for company, and a reisling or shiraz for a spicy meal. Have one bottle of white wine on hand in the refrigerator (it will only last in there for a week), and you’ll be ready for any gathering. A 30-bottle capacity rack is enough for a wine-tasting, an extended gathering, or for someone who likes to try a different wine every day.
Also, keep in mind that most wine rack manufacturers list the total bottle capacity. This may be different from racked wine capacity, as total capacity may have bottles stacked directly on top of each other. While this will not damage the wine, it is not as aesthetically pleasing and may be inconvenient when getting the wine out of the rack.
Styles of Wine Racks: Location is Key
Wine racks come in many styles. Racks can be freestanding cabinets, counter top, or wall mounted.
When choosing a style, keep the following in mind:
How much space do you actually have?
Do you want the wine rack to be visible, or would you rather have a large, hidden wine rack that does not necessarily match your home’s decor?
Where can you put the wine rack?
The most important part of your choice is the location. If you choose a rack that is not freestanding, make sure it is protected from vibrations. It is not a good idea to put the wine rack next to the sink where the disposal will rattle it. Never place the rack on the top of the refrigerator, as it gets very warm. Also, keep the rack away from a window, as the temperature may vary too much, and UV light will damage the wine.
If you can not find a wine rack to fit in that perfect location and you are not confident of making your own, consider having a custom wine rack created just for you. While this option is more expensive than an off-the-rack version, it is still much less than the freestanding units, and can keep your wine for years to come.
Wine Rack Material
Wine racks come in a variety of materials, from wood to metal to glass. Whether you choose one made of mahogany or steel depends on a variety of factors, include cost, weight, and appearance.
Wooden Wine Racks
The most common type of wine rack is the wooden wine rack. It is generally easier to assemble and relatively light. Common woods are pine, cedar, spruce, oak, and redwood. Another less common wood is mahogany. Mahogany is a high quality wood and is used in both moderate and expensive racks.
Metal Wine Racks
Metal wine racks are becoming increasingly popular, especially those made of steel. They are very strong and last longer than wooden racks with less care. They can be painted to match any home. They can also be formed into a wider variety of shapes while maintaining their strength.
Choosing a wine rack should be an enjoyable process. Consider it an investment for all the wines you will try today as well as those you will keep for a special occasion down the road.