BENEFITS OF A WINE CELLAR When wine is born, it’s really just some grape juice, water, yeast, and perhaps some exotic spices. But wonderful things happen when it ages and ferments in tanks and barrels for months or years, and is then bottled and shipped off to be enjoyed or stored for further aging and development. This last step is where a wine cellar can come in handy. Although this might sound pompous, once you have one, you may shudder at the thought of leaving that expensive bottle of wine on the kitchen counter (at 71 degrees) for even a day. What is possibly the most rewarding thing about a wine cellar? The answer lies in what is the most costly thing about most red wines — age. If you buy a bottle of good cabernet today, imagine the velvety richness you’ll be rewarded with 10 years from now. To parody an old famous commercial, “enjoy great wine the old- fashioned way…earn it.” That’s right. Through patience you will be rewarded. Nothing finer than that and your guests who did not participate in that will be equally rewarded and appreciative of your diligence. You can enjoy those fantastic openings alone or with a dearly loved one! The top of the bell curve can be elusive, so open a bottle a year until it reaches it’s peak, then finish the case or two off over the next 12 months. Wine is a living thing. It is born on the vine, squeezed in its youth, then gradually aged to perfection. But the wine cellar can be misused. The finest bottle of cabernet might have a 20-year lifecycle. Drink it at two years old it’s pretty good. However, you might really savor it on its 10th birthday. Then it might slide into an amber-colored, vinegar tasting death at 20. So when thinking about the proper size of your wine cellar or wine room, it is best to consider the amount of wine you like to consume over the course of time. The ratio of reds to whites is important to consider, as well. There are people who have 3,000 to 5,000 bottles or more in their collection. Impressive, but probably not so wise. Assuming all wines get better with age would be a huge mistake, and some collectors find themselves throwing out prized buys. Consider that a vintage port might be good for 50 years, while an Italian pinot grigio might be best at age 1 or 2. Your favorite sauvignon blanc? Drink it today as it won’t last a year. Owning a wine cellar allows you the huge benefit of providing yourself with a well-chosen selection of wines, ensuring you always have the right wine on hand for the right occasion. And for those who keep up on the new red vintage you can’t live without, a wine cellar allows you to stock up and hold onto those great bottles for years to come. Just don’t forget to tag them to remind you when they are best served. SOMETHING TO CONSIDER A true oenophile has to not only consider their cellar placement, temperature, and humidity, but security as well. Some collections can be quite valuable, and some kids can be quite curious. Lastly, if you’re building a cellar and have the space, consider a good sized counter or table for unloading wine. While the thought of enjoying wines in the cellar with friends is enticing, consider the 55-58 temperature as probably being less than ideally comfortable for a long stay.
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