Posted on Mar 16, 2015
The Nuances of Wine Refrigeration
Having a wine cellar in your home lets you properly store wines for future consumption. It also offers the owner a perfect way to categorize and display his or her collection. If wine is special to you, the design and functioning of your cellar should reflect that passion.
In addition to providing space--racks for 750ml bottles, shelves for magnums and larger bottles and storage for cases--you will need to think about climate control. Unless you have access to ample underground storage, some level of wine refrigeration is a necessity.
Wine lovers often refer to "cellar temperature," which is agreed to be around 55 degrees as taken from the traditional wine caves of France. A bit higher or lower will not damage wine, but you should be aware of temperature fluctuations. Wine in a bottle will naturally respond to heat spikes by expanding and pushing on the cork. Too much heating and cooling of a bottle will loosen the cork and allow air to seep in and eventually spoil the wine. A cork that has a streak or two of a wine stain running its length may have been exposed to heat at some point.
Maintaining a constant cellar temperature is important. A general rule about storing wine is to keep your most age-worthy wines in the coldest part of your cellar. Low temperatures will encourage a fine wine to "sleep" and mature gently and slowly. Most early drinking wines don't require a special cool spot and will live comfortably at cellar temperature or slightly above. Climate separation in larger cellars can be achieved by insulated curtains or detached alcoves.
While cellar temperature is appropriate for serving most red wines, whites should be chilled before opening. The rules get a bit soft here because of personal taste. Keep in mind that a wine served too chilled will show muted or closed flavors, and wine that is too warm will come across as flabby and overly alcoholic. Any wine shows itself best after a little exposure to air and warmth in the glass. White wines can quickly be chilled down to service temperature once taken from a cool cellar, so you might like to think about having a smaller, colder unit for the kitchen or dining room.