the perfect drop

Expert Advice: The perfect drop – Home wine cellars


Mastering the art of wine conservation requires knowledge about wine, temperature control and the right storage facility. We get advice from the experts and look at what’s on the market to ensure your wine stays its premium best

Wine cellar expert Neil Smallman from Spiral Cellars shares his advice on how to ensure you get the perfect drop every time


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What is the ideal environment for storing wine?
The key is a humid, dark, stable environment that is not susceptible to dramatic fluctuations in temperature, or temperature extremes.


Is there much leniency with temperature control?

Wine likes to be cool but not too cold, ideally 10-15°C, but wine will be perfectly fine up to 21°C as long as it is stored in a stable environment. If wine is exposed to temperatures over 25°C for long periods of time, it may become spoilt or “cooked”. If it reaches above 30°C, some of the wine’s more volatile compounds may be boiled off forever. If wine is stored below 8°C the maturation process may be inhibited, and wine should never be allowed to freeze.


Does the ideal environment change depending on the type of wine (sparkling, white, red etc)?

The ideal environment for all wines is somewhere humid, dark and cool, with a stable temperature, but there is a school of thought that red wine can be stored at a slightly warmer temperature than white and sparkling.


What happens to the wine if it is not stored under these conditions?

Wine will mature more quickly and, if it becomes exposed to the air because the cork has dried out and shrunk, it can be damaged and spoil. Oxygen in the air is the main enemy of wine; keeping it in a stable humid environment prevents corks from expanding or contracting and letting in any air.


What are the different types of storage options available to consumers?

Offsite temperature-controlled warehouses, wine fridges; walk-in, above-ground wine rooms; underground walk-in cellars and spiral cellars.


Are there options that are better than others?

Different options all have pros and cons and depend on the quantity of wine you are storing, how much space you have, the length of time you need to store it and the purpose of the wine — for example, if it’s an investment or for personal consumption.


What would you recommend for someone looking to store their wine on a…

–     Budget — someone with a small collection who wants to keep a few bottles in good condition for upcoming events: A small wine fridge.

–     Medium range — someone who has a more-than-average-sized collection, enjoys collecting and drinking wine but cannot afford a full-sized cellar: Either a large wine fridge, an off-site warehouse or a “mini cellar”.

–     Big spender — an avid collector of wine with many vintage bottles and others that they are looking to store for years to come: a Spiral Cellar.


How can one go about installing a cellar in an already established home?

The Spiral Cellar is a modular system and can be installed in an established home as long as the room where it is going is at least 3.5m from wall to wall.


Neil is the director of the Galahad Group, distributors of Spiral Cellars.

Originally from Grand Designs Volume 3 Issue 2