CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- People are always asking me for suggestions on how to build or to establish a wine cellar in their homes. Today I'll explain how you can find the proper place to store wine in your home or even in an apartment.
First, you don't have to be concerned about a major construction project unless you have the cash, inclination or the requisite carpentry skills to accomplish the task. Actually, folks living in homes or apartments with no basements can effectively create wine cellar environments in other types of spaces.
Before you begin, try to plan on how many bottles you intend to store. It's probably a good idea to come up with a generous estimation and then double it. That way, you'll have plenty of room to grow the collection.
Keep in mind that you'll need to design the area to store wines that you intend to drink in the near term (usually within a year) as well as those for actual aging.
Finding an appropriate place requires paying attention to a few key details that will ensure your wines emerge from their Rip Van Winkle-like sleep mature and ready to enjoy.
If you have the luxury of a cellar, find an area where the basement wall is up against and below the ground. The reason: The temperature below ground is generally constant and usually ranges between 50 and 60 degrees, the ideal temperature for aging wine.
If you don't have a cellar, find a closet or other dark place where the wine is not exposed to natural or artificial light. Don't store wine in the attic or any area where the temperature tends to rise during the day and, if necessary, use Styrofoam or other materials to create a stable temperature in the space.
Don't be discouraged, however, if your average summer to winter temperature is variable as long as the temperature variation is no more than 5 to 10 degrees throughout the year and the overall average temperature does not exceed 70.