Is a wine cellar really indispensable for a true wine lover? So how do you choose the right model from the many available? Here is a simple and complete guide, because wine must be treated with care in order to preserve its unique characteristics.
The basic principle is that wine is a living, precious and delicate material, and its poor storage is the factor that causes it to lose its properties. Hence, the need to store wine at the correct and constant temperature, in a dry (but not dry) place, away from light, smells and vibrations, keeping the bottles horizontal. Especially if they are important bottles, intended for long ageing.
If you cannot guarantee these conditions for your wines in a suitable place, investing in a wine cooler is the solution. Let's see everything you need to know to choose the right model.
What is a wine cellar ?
It is a sophisticated refrigerator designed to store wine at the correct temperature to preserve its characteristics intact, even for long periods.
What characteristics of the wine are preserved by the wine cellar?
The correct and constant temperature allows the organoleptic characteristics of the wine to be preserved intact, as well as allowing it to evolve over time.
What does a wine cellar look like?
The wine cellar has a door made of tempered double glass, which thermally insulates and protects from light.
The wine cellar has a cooling system that allows the ideal temperature to be set.
One or more fans guarantee the movement of air, ensuring an even temperature.
Humidity and lighting are controlled. The former is essential to prevent the cork from drying out, and the internal light makes it easy to read the bottle labels.
Are all wine cellars the same?
Of course not. Among the many models, which can also be customised, there are two different types, which correspond to two different needs.
1. Tempered wine cellars are those that bring the wine to the correct tasting temperature, and therefore allow for different temperatures inside. Basically, they allow the bottles to be always ready to be uncorked, which is why they have a limited capacity and are suitable for storage for a limited time.
2. Climate-controlled wine cellars, on the other hand, allow long-term storage and thus the ageing of bottles in the best conditions. They are real professional wine cellars, in a small way.
That said, further distinctions can be made according to the cooling process adopted.
Wine cellars with thermoelectric system. Pros: they are quiet and consume less. Cons: they do not guarantee to lower the temperature too much if it is very hot outside. They are more suitable for storing reds.
Wine cellars with compressor. Pros: they guarantee greater cooling. Cons: can be noisy (on a par with a domestic refrigerator) and consume more.
Who needs a wine cellar?
Those who do not have the space to store wine properly, but especially those who like to collect wine and therefore have bottles to store for several years.
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How to choose the ideal wine cellar?
These are the factors to be considered:
- the needs of your wine collection, i.e. the types of bottles: some models allow you to set two or even three different internal temperatures;
- the quantity of bottles to be stored, which determines the capacity of the wine cellar: whether in the order of a few dozen or more, up to a hundred or more;
- the space available to place it: wine cellars can be as large as an oven (for 4-8 bottles) or the size of a large cupboard;
- the characteristics of the space where it is to be placed: if it goes inside the living spaces of the house, pay attention to the decibels (which indicate how quiet it will be) and make sure it has anti-UV glass to protect the bottles from the light;
- the energy class: consumption is expressed in kWh/year - the wine cellar should then always be kept on;
- the budget, of course: costs vary from a few hundred for very small wine cellars, up to a few thousand euros for larger, more sophisticated ones.
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More tips for choosing a wine cellar
- Check the energy class and choose a wine cellar that is class A and does not consume too much energy. And if the model for this will cost more, don't forget that in addition to the environmental benefits, the expense will be balanced with the savings on the bill.
- Make sure that the temperature display is clearly visible without the need to open the door.
- Depending on your needs, you can opt for an interior with storage shelves (which allow for a greater internal capacity because the bottles are stacked one on top of the other), suitable for those who intend to leave the bottles there for a long time; or for sliding shelves, more practical for those who use the wine cellar to remove and replace bottles more often.
Where to position the wine cellar?
The golden rules for positioning the wine cellar correctly in the home are: do not expose it to direct sunlight or next to electrical appliances (which cause vibrations and can generate overheating), if possible choose large rooms, where the temperature is never too high.
In addition: you should leave a space of at least 20 centimetres at the back for ventilation if it is a free-standing wine cellar. In built-in and undercounter wine cellars, the outlet for air circulation is located in the plinth.
At what temperature should wines be kept in the wine cellar?
If it is possible to set a single temperature and all types are stored in the wine cellar, it is advisable to set the temperature to around 13° C, which is a good compromise (the serving temperature of the wine, which differs according to type, is another matter). The bottles should in any case be arranged from bottom to top in this order: sparkling wines, whites, rosés, increasingly important reds.
Finally, what maintenance does the wine cellar require?
The wine cellar requires periodic cleaning, ideally with mild soap and baking soda.
If the wine cellar has a filter, this should be changed once a year; the compression cellar has a tray that collects the defrosting water, which should be cleaned periodically.