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The Ins & Outs of Collecting Wine from a Woodstock Expert

Jul 28, 2017 03:44PM ● By Linda Ditch
Most wine lovers reach a point where they move from buying wine just to drink it to buying wine to keep. This might happen after your visit to a winery where a new taste is discovered, and you want to make sure you have plenty of that good wine on hand. Most wines, especially reds, reach full flavor when allowed to age in a cellar. Or perhaps you want to keep a few bottles to see if they increase in value.

Mike McCarthy of Woodstock Beverage says, “I have some people who by wines here that have collected for years. Rare wines have to be brought in from outside of Vermont. I have people ask me to help them do that.”

If you’re serious about collecting wines, especially if they're rare, then a wine cellar is the way to go. The three primary criteria for storing wine include:

  1. Temperature – wines like to be housed in a cool environment. Ideally, this means a temperature between 55 and 60 degrees. Large changes in temperature will damage the wine.
  2. Humidity – a level of around 60 percent works best for wine. However, anywhere in the 50 to 70 percent range is acceptable. If it’s too humid, mold will grow on the cork. Not humid enough and the cork will dry out, causing the wine to spoil.
  3. Lighting – wines like dark environments. Sunlight and bright artificial lighting can damage wines.

A wine cellar can be as simple as the purchase of a specialty wine refrigerator made to keep bottles at the proper temperature and humidity or as elaborate as building a full-scale wine cellar in your home. Whatever method you choose, always go bigger than you think you’ll need.

Basements are perfect spaces for wine cellars due to their natural temperature and humidity levels. A framed area with super-insulated walls and ceiling will cut down on temperature fluctuations. A glass exterior door at the opening, complete with a threshold and weather stripping for a tight seal, will allow you to show off the collection while keeping the conditioned air confined to the cellar space.

In addition, since traditional air conditioners remove too much humidity from the air, a specialized wine cellar cooling unit is needed to keep the room at the proper, steady temperature and humidity level.

No basement? Look around the house for other options. A small closet is a good solution since it will keep the wines in a dark and balanced environment. A cooling unit could be installed if the temperature is too warm. Avoid spaces in the kitchen, laundry room, and utility room due to the temperature and humidity fluctuations. 

Now that you have a space, how do you start to fill it? The first rule of thumb is to buy what you like. Also, look for tasting events at restaurants and wineries, or just spend a few minutes chatting with someone at your favorite wine shop for ideas.

Just because you have a wine cellar doesn’t mean it needs to be full of expensive bottles. It’s more important that you enjoy the wines, unless you’re considering collecting wines as an investment. If so, you’ll want to also invest in a fully equipped wine cellar.      

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