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A Simple Wine Cellar – A Cavern of Treasures

June 3, 2010

Charles Shaw (Two Buck Chuck) was created by Bronco Wine Company to make wine a staple on the American dinner table. Unlike its deep, rich and tannic cousins which won’t reach optimal drinking potential for 5, 10, 15, 30+ years, Chuck is ready to drink, now. When such a drinkable and affordable wine hits the shelves, it brings overall awareness of the (wine) market to the masses. Once the now flush and merry market has the palate for wine on a regular basis, you can begin selling slightly more expensive and higher quality wines. Just look at the various labels under Bronco, they all definitely do not cost $2! We may not all be able to stuff our coffers with Rothchild or Penfolds verticals, but that doesn’t mean your average Joe can’t find some aging worthy or simply great juice at a place like Trader Joes. Irregardless of how much dough you tossed on the counter to purchase your bottle(s), the most important aspect of aging or keeping wine at home is how you store it. A $200 bottle of wine won’t combat negative influences (temperature, light and humidity) any better than a $5.99 bottle if it is not stored properly. This article is designed to give the average Joe some guidance to storing wine properly and practically free in a wine cellar of their own at home.

Elements of a great wine cellar:
1. Temperature – 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Light – the darker, the better
3. Moisture – 80% humidity is best

Basically, I have described nearly anyone’s basement or storage space in an apartment building.

Under the house in a crawl space, like mine. Under a stair case or in a dark closet. Basically, anywhere that the bottles won’t be disturbed constantly with vibrations and movement.

What to hold your wine with:
When grocery stores take in shipments of dairy products, they arrive in great plastic crates that won’t rot over time or become a snack for termites (you don’t want termites under your house!). Drawback: technically it is illegal to take these from a store, so get creative… 😉 But often, you see these at flea markets. In addition, you can purchase cheap plastic wine bottle holders which fit perfectly into the plastic creates. It’s almost as if they were designed for this…

If you’ve selected one of the locations I referenced above, you probably won’t have issues with temperature. (My uncle went as far as to install cooling coils to bring the temp down in his cellar!) Keeping track of the temperature is simple: Have you thought of replacing that old thermometer out on the back patio? Or perhaps next time you are rummaging about at a thrift shop, you can score a (hopefully) tacky thermometer. Keep in mind: Function over form!

I really like having access to a wine cellar because there is something really cool about going down to the basement, opening a wooden door and finding a small space full of treasures waiting to be opened. Once someone has a few dozen bottles in their possesion and some years go by, it’s easy to lose track of your selection. But when you venture down to the cellar a few times a week, it keeps those ‘special’ bottles in mind and you may know exactly when that ‘perfect’ moment to uncork a charished bottle. Follow these simple cues and you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping your cavern of treasures around for years. And think of how cool it will sound at your next dinner party when you say: “Excuse me a moment while I get another bottle in the wine cellar…”

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