If you love wine, you may have dreamt of building up a collection of your favourite varieties or even creating your own wine cellar.
However, having a wine collection requires space and if you live in a small apartment or house, you may think it isn’t an option for you. Renting a self-storage unit is one way of creating your own wine cellar without having to move house or sacrifice precious space in your property.
Self-storage units can keep your cases of wine secure and make sure they are kept in the right conditions. You can also access your wine when you need to during the facility’s opening hours, making it a more convenient option than storing it in a bonded warehouse.
But how should you store wine to make sure you don’t compromise its quality?
When storing wine, it is important to make sure it doesn’t get too hot or cold as this could spoil it. Ideally, wine should be stored at a consistent temperature of around 13C, although the exact temperature may vary depending on the type. While it may not always be possible to keep the temperature at exactly 13C, it is vital to make sure it is never stored at temperatures lower than -4C or higher than 20C. Freezing wine can change its flavour while high temperatures can destroy the volatile compounds which give a wine its aroma and unique characteristics. Changes in temperature can also cause leaks, especially if the bottle has a cork which can expand and contract.
Storing wine horizontally is not only the most effective way of using space, it’s better for your wine as well. If your bottles have corks, storing them on their side will make sure the cork remains moist – an important part of safe long-term wine storage. If a cork dries out, it can crumble which can cause wine to become contaminated or shrink, allowing air into the bottle. It can also lead to leaks and premature aging. Improperly stored wines are most at risk of becoming ‘corked’, which means it has been tainted by the chemical compound TCA. Keeping your bottles horizontal will also mean you can fit more into your storage space and easily access individual wines when you want them. Make sure the label is at the top to make it simpler to identify which bottle you need and to reduce the risk of the label becoming damaged over time.
Never store wine in direct sunlight as the sun’s UV rays can significantly change both the flavour and the aroma. Ideally, wine should be stored in the dark where possible, which can be a challenge if you are keeping them in a room inside your house. You should also avoid keeping wine anywhere where there will be vibrations as they can disturb the sediments within the bottle, interfering with the natural ageing process. As most people are not lucky enough to live in a property large enough to have a dedicated wine cellar, many wine enthusiasts may choose to keep their collection in their kitchen or utility room. This can be a mistake as any room being used on a regular basis will not provide the cool, dark and calm conditions which vintages thrive in. Storing near a window, washing machine, tumble dryer, gym equipment or speakers can all potentially damage your wine. Putting your wine collection into self-storage means you can ensure it is kept in the dark and away from any vibrating equipment to preserve its quality and taste. Make sure any lighting you use is LED as this does not emit UV rays and will not interfere with your wine.
Too much humidity can cause wine labels to become damaged or peel off, while low humidity can dry out your corks putting your wine at risk of contamination. Ideally, wine should be stored in a room where humidity levels are between 60 and 68 per cent. Kitchens and bathrooms are usually too humid to store wine in. If you need to monitor the humidity in a room or storage space, you can use a hygrometer to give you a humidity reading. Dehumidifiers can be used to make an area less humid, while humidifiers can put moisture back into the air if the conditions are too dry.
Be careful about what your wine collection shares a space with. Avoid storing wine with any other foods or anything which has a very strong smell. Powerful odours can actually have an impact on your wine and penetrate the cork. Food can attract pests and anything containing yeast can cause your wine to ferment so it is safest to store your wine in a completely food-free space.