For most wine lovers, the journey to appreciating wine isn’t smooth. At first, the wine world may seem complicated and elitist, with all the esoteric words in the tasting notes and the wine jargon mentioned by sommeliers. But once you get started, the world of wine is welcoming and offers so much to explore.

If you are on this journey and thinking about getting serious about wine as a hobby but don’t know how to build a wine cellar, this is your guide. Building a wine cellar is not just for wealthy people. Every wine lover can build a wine collection, also when on a budget.

A collection of wines in a wine cellar (Javier Balseiro, unsplash.com)

Storage and Space Planning

Wine requires proper storage. In fact, a lot of spoilage and wine faults are due to improper storage. That’s why the most important first step is to find a place to store your wine. A dark place with no direct sunlight, stable temperatures between 45-65°F (7-18°C), and humidity levels around 55-70% is ideal.

Although the best temperature is around 55°F, as long as it’s cool and shaded, the humidity is what you should pay attention to. The humidity is critical to avoid the cork drying out. Some cooling systems, Chambraires, are specifically designed to mature your wines in ideal conditions.

If you have a basement at your house or in your apartment building, it should normally fit the criteria, and you can start filling your cellar. If not, consider buying a wine fridge or a wine cooler to for the wine storage. It provides the ideal temperature and humidity to protect your bottles. And it’s not only for wine; you can use it to store other beverages or cigars.

Once you find a place to store your wines, it’s time to build your cellar. Depending on the capacity of your storage, you can assign space for wines with different purposes. You may have a larger space for the wines you plan to store long-term, some space for wines you prepare for special occasions, and a small space for your daily drinking wine, as those wines you drink faster and don’t need to take much space.

Selecting the Bottles

Selecting bottles for your personal wine cellar may seem to be a difficult task for any wine lover, but it can be a great opportunity to learn and discover. You can always find a wine expert or a sommelier to give you advice, but if you learn to do it yourself, the process is more satisfying and rewarding. Here are some tips to help you find good value wines to build your wine cellar.

Buy Wines at Release Time

If you are looking to store some wines for a long period, years or even decades, either for investment or for special occasions, it’s best to buy the bottles immediately after their release. This rule applies especially for rare and collectible fine wines, as the value of the wines often increases over time. You may find top-quality Barolo or Brunello di Montalcino under $100 at its release, but the price after 20 years, when the wine reaches its prime drinking time, will double or triple.

Prestigious wine regions for collectible wines with a lower price for new vintages but a tendency to rise include:

  • Famous Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune village, Premier Cru and Grand Cru Burgundy
  • Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux, prestigious Cru Bourgeois estates, prestigious Pomerol estates
  • Côte Rôtie, Hermitage, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Rhône Valley
  • Vintage Champagne
  • High-end Rioja
  • Barolo and Barbaresco
  • Brunello di Montalcino
  • Amarone
  • Super Tuscans
  • Sauternes and Tokaj

Auctions

Auctions are another way to find collectible wine bottles at reasonable prices. You can follow the auctions at traditional auction houses or find reliable online auction platforms to find the bottles you want. It’s a good way to find older vintage or special edition wines that are not generally available at wine shops.

Affordable Age-Worthy Wines

If fine wine is beyond your budget or you simply want to store up some wines and enjoy them slowly at different stages, you may want to find wines that are budget-friendly, ready to drink, and have great aging potential.

Sounds too good to be true? Not really! There are many age-worthy wines that don’t break the bank. With a fraction of the price of a fine wine bottle, you can buy a wine that will last a decade or more.

Generally speaking, for a wine to be able to age, high acidity and high levels of tannins are key elements. Wines from lesser-known regions usually have more competitive prices compared to those of the same quality level from prestigious wine regions.

Examples of affordable, age-worthy wines include:

  • Loire Valley Chenin Blanc
  • Mosel Riesling
  • Grüner Veltliner Smaragd
  • Taurasi
  • Chianti Classico Riserva
  • Etna red and white
  • Douro Red
  • Cahors
  • Madiran

Tracking Your Inventory and Enjoying Your Wines

As you gradually build your wine cellar, it’s important to keep track of your inventory. For long-term storage, keeping track of your bottles not only informs you of the best time to enjoy them but also the value of the bottles over time. Fortunately, in 2024 we don’t need to do this with a spreadsheet, as there are many digital wine cellar services that you can use to keep records of your wine collection.

With digital wine cellar apps like VinoVoss, you can simply add the wines to your account under “My Wine Cellar.” These apps allow you to catalog your collection, track the aging process, and even get recommendations on when to drink each bottle. Many of these platforms also offer community features, letting you connect with other wine enthusiasts, share tasting notes, and discover new wines based on your preferences.

Use VinoVoss “My Wine Cellar” function to keep track of your wine collection (screenshot from VinoVoss App)

Starting your wine cellar doesn't have to be an overwhelming task. With careful planning, smart purchasing, time and the help of modern technology, you can build a diverse and enjoyable wine collection without breaking the bank. So, dear VinoVossers, no need to wait. Why not start building your cellar today and enjoy the wines for years to come?

Sylvia Ba

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