Building a Cellar

You don’t need a dedicated room in your basement to start a wine cellar. Heck, you don’t even need a basement. A little used room or closet can fit the bill, as long as you follow some basic rules. But if you do want a top-grade cellar, we’ve also got you covered. In any case, what are you waiting for to build that collection?

There are two steps to “building” a wine cellar:

  1. Collect a range of wine to meet your short and long term goals or desires.
  2. Prepare the physical space to hold your collection.

Step 1 – Creating a Basic Collection

Below is a sample cellar you can personalize to your tastes. Vary your selection as much (or as little) as you’d like within a specific category, or concentrate your choices so you have several bottles of the same wine – it’s completely up to you (it’s your cellar after all).

The Basic Cellar – 40 bottles

  • 12 bottles everyday white: Vin de Pays Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, Canadian Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc, German Riesling Kabinett, emillon blend, Soave.
  • 12 bottles everyday red: Bordeaux AC, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, Beaujolais Villages, Valpolicella, Canadian Cabernet Franc, European Red.
  • 6 bottles fine white: Burgundy from a named vineyard, (4 ready to drink & 2 to age) Premium Californian oaked Chardonnay, Alsatian Gewürztraminer, Graves AC, German Riesling Spätlese
  • 6 bottles fine red: Bordeaux cru classé, Burgundy from a named (2 ready to drink & 4 to age) vineyard, Barolo Riserva, Hermitage, Premium California Cabernet.
  • 2 bottles (4 halves) dessert wine: Canadian Icewine, Sauternes, Tokay Essencia, Vin Santo, German Trockenbeerenauslese.
  • 1 bottle fino sherry
  • 1 bottle vintage port to age

Step 2 – Physical Storage Area

Tips about where to have your cellar:

  • Your wine storage area of preference should have a constant temperature that is cooler rather than warm; it should be dark, and free from vibration and strong odours.
  • Unless you have a cold storage area, your kitchen is the worst place to keep your wine. Heat and rapid temperature fluctuations cause premature aging (in wine).
  • A little used hall or bedroom closet, or basement if you have one, is a much better bet. It needs to be cool, dark and large enough that you can store the bottles on their side.
  • Strong wine cartons make adequate, short term storage containers but there are many models of modular wine racks that provide sturdier and more permanent systems.

Dream Cellars

“Dream cellars” have two basic forms.

  1. For the basement-less crowd: a refrigerated cooler unit. Several different sizes and models are available. The most elaborate come with wood veneer to suit a formal dining room.
  2. For homes with basements or separate storage areas: a custom designed cellar. Insulated walls and ceiling, temperature control, built-in storage bins, Italian ceramic floors, etc., etc. The sky’s the limit.