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“Which wine cellar to choose?” This is a question I am often asked, which is why I offer you this ultimate guide that will allow you to find the wine cellar of your dreams without worrying about it.

Whether you are an experienced wine lover or a total novice, there is no better way to store your wines in the best conditions. This guide is not intended to help you choose for yourself, but simply to give you the necessary keys to be able to choose your wine cellar without hesitation.

Why buy a wine cellar?

We have to start there. The wine improves as it ages. However, it must be stored in good conditions in order to limit the defects of the wine.

Light and UV reduce the wine and give it a cauliflower taste. The cork, on the other hand, can dry and transmit its aromas to the liquids. If there is too much humidity or not enough ventilation, fungi can develop. Finally, the temperature, if it is not stable, may cause the wine to turn, causing it to turn to vinegar.

Wine is a living product that requires care. However, not everyone has the chance to have a large house with a vaulted limestone cellar at 13°C all year round, perfect ventilation and 70% humidity.

For all the others, there are wine cellar furniture!

We will start by seeing together the two main families of wine cellars: service cellars and ageing cellars.

TYPES OF CELLAR: wine cellar for serving, ageing

The first step in choosing your wine cellar is to define what you need for yourself and your wine.

The essential question in the choice between service cellar and ageing cellar is as follows:

How long will you keep your bottles?

cave à vin choisir rangement

That’s it, you know everything! No, I’m kidding. Even if it is true to say that it is the storage time that will really count in your choice.

One can imagine that the serving wine cellar will be more for those who simply want to have good bottles on the side for occasions or for everyday. The aging wine cellar will be more for those who decide to buy 12 bottles for the 18 years of the last daughter.

Let’s start with a quick debriefing of the major differences between these two types of wine cellars. Then, we will go into a little more detail (very) important so that you do not regret your choice.

Let’s go!

Service cellar (or mixed cellar)

What is it?

These cellars are perfect for those who want to have wine at the ideal temperature at all times. A single piece of furniture with several temperatures, like a refrigerator. But unlike a refrigerator, temperatures can vary from 6 to 18°C.

It is a very good choice for those who do not necessarily want to keep the bottles for very long years. However, it should be noted that the storage of bottles will still be possible for about 5 years (without risk of damaging the wine).

A mixed cellar is a hybrid between the ageing cellar and a service cellar. In reality, it’s still closer to the service cellar.

Budget :

Between 250 and 3500€

Advantages :

  • Your wines are ready to be served at the right temperature at any time
  • You can adapt the temperature to the type of wine you want to store in it
  • You can choose from a wide variety of designs.
  • There are many models for a small number of bottles

Disadvantages :

  • They are not suitable for long term storage (more than 5 years)
  • They are less viable than ageing cellars
  • Choice of precise +/- temperatures according to the range. A quality service cellar will cost you in the 500€ min.

Aging cellar

What is it?

These cellars are more suitable for people who want to build up a stock of bottles over the long term. This is the model you will need if you plan to keep your precious vials for 20 years without fear of external variations.

On the other hand, it requires planning when you want to open a bottle. For example, it takes a good two hours for one of your bottles to rise from 13°C (average temperature of these cellars at +/-1°C) to 18°C (serving temperature of most powerful red wines)

Budget :

From 500€ onwards

Advantages :

  • Excellent conditions of custody
  • High temperature stability
  • Humidity control (depending on model)
  • You can count on a good ageing cellar for 20 to 25 years

Disadvantages :

  • Only one temperature (~13°C)
  • Often less aesthetic
  • There are few models for a small quantity of bottles

MY CHOICE

An ageing cellar, 280 bottles, from Climadiff since September 2015. Well, at first, I was fooled because I forgot to take out the bottles early (and red Languedoc at 13°C, it’s not good!). On the other hand, since the arrival of this cellar we no longer drink any wine at 4°C (taken out of the fridge). And what a delight to taste a great white wine at the end of the cellar around 12.5°C

WINE CELLAR: THE MAIN SELECTION CRITERIA

Wine quality and aesthetic quality:

It is often the most complex step in decision-making. Should you have a cellar that preserves the wines or the aesthetics of your interior? As a wine merchant, I would advise you to give priority to the ageing quality of your wines. However, it is not impossible to marry the two.

Indeed, the most stylish wine cellars with glass doors also keep the wines very well. You will just have to think about changing (or installing) the UV filter on the door. You may already know this, but wine hates light.

So important point: Glass door yes but with UV filter to be changed every two years on average.

What capacity? How many bottles?

The capacity of the cellar depends above all on your capacity in terms of space, financial resources and wine consumption. This is the important point that is always forgotten! When we talk about 60 bottles it may seem like a lot and not even be that much!
Especially if you are used to buying one or two boxes during wine fairs or other winegrower’s shows.

Indeed, if you want to keep your bottles for a while to wait for them to mature, your wine cellar is likely to be saturated quickly. Not to mention that you also need space for any bottles you already have.

I received a lot of testimonials from customers who quickly realized that they should have revised their estimates upwards.

What size for your wine cellar?

Of course, this will vary depending on the capacity you have chosen. However, it is often a compromise between your desires, your budget and the space you have in your house or apartment.

It is obvious that, in a small apartment, it will be more complicated to find a place for a 65x65x188cm piece of furniture. For this type of cellar, it will be necessary to think about the size but also the traffic around the cellar. If possible, the wine cellar should be located in a quiet place to avoid vibrations.

Then, there are also (especially for service cellars) built-in models that can be integrated very well as base units in your kitchen.

What price?

You have probably already looked at the prices of the different wine cellars and if so, you will have noticed that the price ranges are very wide. There are first prices around 150 euros (I strongly advise against them) up to tailor-made models that cost the price of a luxury car.

However, by defining all the points seen above, you will quickly realize that the price sets itself.
Moreover, I recommend the excellent configurator of ma-cave-a-vin.fr which, in exchange for your email, allows you to define these criteria without any difficulty.

What brand?

There are several different brands but if you want a quality and durable cellar, you will quickly fall back on these brands.

Eurocave: international leader in wine cellars, Eurocave specializes in the high-end market with 100% French cellars.

Frio: this group includes the La Sommelière, Climadiff and Avintage brands. For me, these are the best value for money (Climadiff in the lead).

Liebherr: German quality. Robust cellars.

Artevino: elegant and functional designer cellars.

Calice: specialized in the top of the range with a high level of finish and design

WE THINK ABOUT IT LESS!

The energy class

Don’t forget because your cellar must be connected 24 hours a day and it can quickly cost you money on your electricity bill. When making your selection, remember to take a good look. Only buy wine cellars of category A or A+ (++/++++).

GOOD TO KNOW
It is also essential that your wines remain well ventilated to avoid mould.

The number of shelves

clayette choisir cave à vin

Shelves are large wooden drawers that slide into the wine cellar to support your shelves. We must not ignore the number.

If you like to spend time reorganizing your bottles, it is better to use a large number of shelves.

For my part, I chose to take only 4 racks for 280 bottles (it is very little) because in this way I do not see the great vintages hidden in the bottom and am not tempted to open them before they reach maturity: -D

Where will you keep it?

Be careful to provide a quiet place for your wine cellar. Bottles don’t like to be disturbed so much. Elevator vibration, excessive brightness, vibration in the ground as this may damage the wine. In particular, to turn the oldest vintages (+10 years) into vinegar.

Take your time to choose how to integrate this piece of furniture in the most harmonious way into your home.

In a house or apartment, you may have access to a basement. It’s a great place to store your brand new wine cellar. However, it is better to avoid basements that may be flooded because they are still electrical equipment.

Also, be sure to check for an electrical outlet before buying with your eyes closed.

TO REMEMBER
I think it is important to add that the purchase of a wine cellar is not an insurance against the defects and bad tastes of wine. If a bottle is corked, it will be corked in or out of the cellar.

HAVING A WINE CELLAR: IS IT REALLY USEFUL?

Big question! Indeed, it is not mandatory. There is one thing you should know about wine: it is stored for less and less time. This has been the trend in consumption in recent years.

To be well preserved, wine needs the following things:

A good temperature:
Ideally between 12 and 13°C but the wine can also be kept at 18°C. It is just necessary that the temperature does not undergo violent temperature drops/highs.

A good hygrometry:
To be well preserved, the wine must be kept between 70 and 80% humidity. If the atmosphere is dry, corks may lose their elasticity and increase the risk of wine defects (corked, reduced, etc.)

Good ventilation:
Bottles need to be in a ventilated area to prevent mould from developing.

So a wine cellar cabinet will allow you to control these factors much better and offer greater stability to your precious bottles.

However, your bottles are not made of sugar. Sometimes it only takes a corner of a cupboard to store your wines for a year or two.

So, to the question, is it really useful? I say yes’ but I let you give me your opinion in comments.

GOOD TO KNOW
Contrary to popular belief, organic and natural wines are not necessarily more fragile. On the contrary, quality natural wines are often more resistant to disease. This makes them excellent wines for ageing.

Tips for a real cellar

I add a small section if you have a cellar but poor storage conditions. You have always dreamed of having a beautiful wine cellar in your basement. Only, this cellar is too dry, too hot, or with too many variations.

It is quite possible to remedy this depending on your budget. I helped a Malian customer design a cellar designed for very high dry heat. You have the possibility to install in your cellar:

  • better thermal insulation
  • an air conditioner
  • a humidifier
  • an air pressure control (it becomes extreme but not useless)
  • a weather station to control all these parameters
choisir sa cave à vin sous-sol bar

I do not hide from you that such changes will have a cost, even if it is only the cost of your electricity bill. On the other hand, your wine will be grateful to you.

ENDWORD

The important thing to remember is that the wine cellar remains an excellent way to store your wine in the best conditions without worrying about it.

The purchase of a wine cellar must be considered. Or even left to mature because when you buy a wine cellar, you buy a piece of furniture for a few decades. Wine does not like change so much, so it is better to focus on quality in the long term.

I’ll let you ask me your questions and give me your feedback in comments. I hope that this ultimate guide to choosing your wine cellar will serve you well.

I’ll see you soon for new articles.

See you very soon,
Corentin – DesVinsaVous

SOURCES
https://www.ma-cave-a-vin.fr/
https://lexpansion.lexpress.fr/entreprises/les-caves-a-vin-frio-pourquoi-ca-marche_194333340.html
http://www.entreprendre.fr/cave-a-vin-eurocave-leader-mondial-et-100–made-in-france

 

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J'adore le vin et je me suis spécialisé depuis plusieurs années dans le whisky du monde entier. J'adore transmettre et échanger sur tous les métiers de bouche et/ou de service.

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