Whether you are a casual collector, a sommelier looking for more room to stash your stock, or just someone who wants to impress friends with fancy bottles—presentation of wine starts with the preservation, and the only way to preserve wine is with proper storage tailored to an Atlanta climate.
There is always the option to excavate your crawlspace, get the needed permits, take out a second mortgage, and whip up an awesome little wine cellar. However, if you’re looking for a weekend project, there are plenty of budget-friendly options in which to build your bottles a perfect abode.
There are three enemies every oenophile should be aware of when building a temple of tannin, as they are the biggest foes of fermented leisure: light, humidity, and temperature. But for every villain there is a hero, and as such here are some economical solutions to prevent your spirits from becoming evil.
Ultraviolet (UV) light is a flavor killer that can damage wine by causing the degradation of organic compounds, which is why most wine is bottled in dark colored glass. As such, the nesting place for your bottled bliss should be dark.
Solution: Stay out of the kitchen
Fluorescent lights are the nastiest of the UV light monsters, and are present in many kitchens—something to keep in mind when plotting a storage location. While natural light and kitchens are always a good match, the two go together about as well as Worcestershire and watermelon. Look for areas away from windows and where a lower indoor light feels a little more comfortable. An entire wall in a dimly-lit family room or den can be converted into an excellent storage place. Another option is to scout out a secluded corner in a rec room or dining area that doesn’t get direct light.
A consultant on more than 150 custom wine projects, Erik Kuene is a specialist in finding unique solutions for one-of-a-kind spaces. Kuene assists in every step of the build out and is a great option for those looking for a professional and permanent solution.
Enemy: Humidity (or lack thereof)
Things are changing the world of wine, and you may have noticed synthetic corks and screw tops are no longer isolated to cheaper varieties, but have instead made their way up into the midrange. The main reason for this change is because the traditional cork seal is an imperfect method of preserving wine, due to its health and effectiveness at the whim of the moisture in the air. You may think lack of humidity is not a huge issue in Atlanta, but levels can vary in different parts of a household and maintaining a good balance is crucial to keeping your vino safe. Low humidity can dry out the cork, causing cracks and entry points for air and essentially exposing your wine to unintentional aging.
Solution: Go sideways
Wine racks don’t lay bottles on their sides just for space-saving reasons; the horizontal storage ensures the cork stays moist and in turn keeps the wine in good shape. Be weary of any storage solution that opts for keeping your bottles vertical and always opt for solutions that keeps them situated sideways instead.
Hours: Mon-Sat: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
If space is limited, look no further. Designed by Functional Art, the Pinna M wine rack offers a creative and elegant way to store and display wine in narrow spaces while keeping the bottles resting the way they should. In addition, it creates a spectacular impression when installed in a group of similar-sized racks.
The most important factor to consider when ensuring your liquid investment stays fresh is the temperature. The exact number will vary depending upon whom you ask, but most agree the sweet spot for storing wine is somewhere between 55° to 60°F, with little fluctuation. Unfortunately, anyone who has ever spent a summer in the South knows this is far from the natural climate in the region.
Solution: Chill out
A wine fridge isn’t the most economical wine storage solution, but solves all the problems listed above, as it keeps the wine shielded from light and controls humidity. It is also the most surefire way to be certain your grapes are resting and aging at the ideal temperature and pace. Some fridges can hold up to as many as 36 bottles or more, but smaller options may be more aesthetically pleasing. The fridge should be reserved for the more elite vintages, while the rest of your prized possessions can lay on the rack.
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This chain may be the last place a wine lover would look to preserve his or her collection, but an oenophile in the market for a freestanding, compact refrigerated wine case should consider Lowe’s. The store offers the best variety of good looking, economical and functional coolers available. Here shoppers will find the Frigidaire compressor, which offers technology that is quiet, vibration free and offered in two sizes. The eight bottle cooler is $99.99 and the 18 bottle cooler is $199.99. The coolers are polished black with a mirrored door while the shelves inside are chrome and slide for easy storage.
Related: Best Wine Bars In Atlanta
Other wine storage solutions:
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Pottery Barn offers the tabletop modular wine box for only $69. Sporting a smooth and polished wood finish, the box is versatile either standing up, allowing for stacking of wine, or upright with polished brass handles for carrying. The store also carries a wooden “half barrel” with slots for wine storage, which offers a neat display for wine.
Hours: Mon-Sat: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sun: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For close to 70 years, The JK Adams Company has made fine wooden products for the home, and its hard wooden wine racks are no exception. A 12 bottle and a 40 bottle rack are offered at The Container Store. If it’s the industrial look you want, the store carries InterMetro shelving. This look is reminiscent of a high tech commercial kitchen and many say quite chic for a home kitchen. The wine racks come in white,black or silver and are priced from $165 to $185 dollars.
Lynda Mahana is a freelance writer in Atlanta. She is a former New Orleanian that has always had a great passion for food and entertaining. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.