Whether your wine collection consists of a handful of bottles picked up at the grocery store or hundreds of vintages from a variety of countries, one thing is certain: you’ll want to store your wine properly to ensure a great-tasting glass of vino. Despite Chicago’s famed blistering-hot summers and frigid winters, it’s possible to store your collection in your home without damaging the wine. The following are tips to keep in mind when building your own wine rack.
1) Learn the basics of wine storage. Shawnee Bruno, wine buyer and manager of In Fine Spirits in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood, advises keeping wine stored in a temperature-controlled room that is between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. “Keep the wine bottle away from direct sunlight and heat, as both can damage the wine,” Bruno said, adding that wine is a “living thing that is constantly evolving.”
2) Think about storage space. Wine bottles should be stored on their side to ensure the cork does not dry out. If a cork gets dry, then air will be allowed to enter the bottle, damaging the wine inside. That doesn’t mean you need a wine rack that is more horizontal than vertical, though. Wine racks can be built to reach the ceiling of the room it is stored in — just make sure you have a step-stool nearby to get the hard-to-reach bottles.
3) Build a wine rack. Made with plastic, wood or metal, wine racks can help you properly store your wine bottles. Get creative and use reclaimed materials, such as former wine bottle cases. By building your own rack, you can customize the rack to fit the dimensions of your basement or closet space.
4) Re-purpose existing furniture to store wine. If you have a bookcase, clear out as many shelves as you need and use wine racks to store your bottles. An old dresser can also be redesigned to store wine by adding panels to prevent the bottles from rolling around every time you open the dresser drawer. However, Rick Grigsby, owner of Chicago Wine Cellar Expert, advises against using clay tile to store wine. “Bottles can be scratched if stored in clay tiles. Serious collectors and people who really like wine don’t like to see the scratches,” he said.
5) Think outside the box. According to Bruno, the basement is ideal for storing wine, as it does not experience as many fluctuations in temperature as the first floor of the house. Basements also are not damp, providing an ideal temperature and climate for storing wine. If you don’t have space available in the basement, use a closet instead. Build a rack in a closet that is not along an exterior wall, as the closet could experience fluctuations in temperature. If you’re short on floor space, consider mounting a small wine rack to the wall. Placing your wine up high also ensures bottles will not be disturbed by someone bumping into them.
Below are some local businesses that may be able to help you get started.
Chicago Wine Cellar Expert
28 E Jackson Building, Suite 1020
Chicago, IL 60604
Chicago Wine Cellar Expert provides custom wine cellar designs, including customized doors and racks. The company specializes in building wine cellars for condominiums, high rises and townhouses.
2659 Gardner Road
Broadview, IL 60155
A creator of custom closets, Crooked Oak counts building specialty wine racks as one of its specialties. The company typically uses cherry, maple, oak, mahogany, walnut, poplar and exotic woods in its custom cabinetry.
In Fine Spirits
5418 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
Established in 2004, In Fine Spirits offers a variety of wine from all over the world, including a number of bottles under $25. It also offers wine tastings on Fridays and Saturdays.
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Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.