I have read articles that have suggested that there are two types of “wine people” – those who collect it and those who buy it to drink.
In my mind a collector is someone who purchases elite wines as an investment. In other words, this is someone who buys wine with the intention of later reselling it for a profit. The cellaring requirements for these collectors could range from a few weeks to many years, depending on the situation. Generally speaking, these individuals will need space to store a significant number of bottles at any one time.
Wine drinkers, on the other hand, I see as being those who purchase wine for the pure enjoyment gained from consuming it. Some of whom follow the ‘just in time’ manufacturing process whereby a bottle of wine is purchased on or about the date it will be consumed. Others like to keep some wine on hand ahead of when it will be consumed, to be prepared for occasions that come up unannounced. Cellaring requirements in this situation range from not being required at all to where a wine fridge with space for ten to twenty bottles will provide sufficient storage.
However, I would like to suggest that there is a third category of wine people that I would categorize as a longer term wine consumer. Like the collector, long term storage capability is essential as these individuals purchase both wines that are drinkable in the present, like the wine drinkers described above, but they also purchase wines that need to mature and won’t be at their optimum for several years in the future. Unlike the collector, the pedigree of the wines purchased are less likely to be on the list of famous wine producers, and more likely to be less expensive but good quality wines.
Whether you are looking to retain a few bottles or a large number of cases, the storage requirements are the same; you need to have a sealed fridge with high humidity, consistent temperature, no UV rays, and minimal vibration.
The temperature of the storage unit should be in the neighbourhood of 13o C or 55o F. If you elect to construct a wine room or cellar, the room needs to be insulated with a minimum of R13 insulation. The door must be well insulated and sealed to prevent the cold air from escaping. A simple exterior door will suffice but the sky is the limit when considering more elaborate options.
Cooling options range in size and cost depending on the room size and cooling option chosen.
The cellar should be designed in a way to allow for storage, display and tasting. It has been suggested that when determining your storage requirements you should consider the number of bottles you think you would like to retain and then double it. Otherwise you may find you quickly run out of storage and be forced (sounds harsh when considering wine) to drink your wine sooner than you intended.
Not all wine bottles are the same size so that must be considered when looking at racking solutions. Typically Burgundy bottles are fatter than Bordeaux bottles; new world wine bottles (e.g. Australia, South America) may be longer than those of the old world ( e.g. France, Italy, Germany).
Depending on your personal preferences and budget, racking options can be either wood, metal or wire cable and be either custom made or created from modular kits of varying sizes and styles. If a wood solution is selected, cedar or redwood is the best option given that the humidity level in the cellar will be relatively high.
Personally, on two occasions I have used modular racks that I purchased from Rosehill Wine Cellars. I was able to incorporate the racks into the design so that they appear to have been customized for the space.
Return on Investment
A wine fridge will cost upwards from about $200 to in excess of $2,000. A cellar will cost from about $7,000, depending on design and materials chosen.
Some real estate experts say that home buyers looking at homes valued at $850,000 or more expect that the home will have at least a wine fridge. However, a wine cellar may or may not add value, depending on the preferences of each particular buyer.