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Qualities of a good wine cellar

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It is a necessity in a quality wine cellar to provide a favorable environment to ensure that the wines kept there remain in a fresh state even after many years cellaring.

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Qualities of a Good Wine Cellar

Qualities of a Good Wine Cellar

A wine cellar is a storage area for wine in barrels or

bottles and is normally built underground. It is a necessity

in a quality wine cellar to provide a favorable environment

to ensure that the wines kept there remain in a fresh state

even after many years cellaring. This means that the

temperature and humidity of the cellar have to be

regulated at levels that will allow the wines to age slowly

and develop complexity.

If a cellar is built above the ground, it could better be

described as a wine room and if it contains less than 500

bottles and is above ground, it could be identified as a

wine closet. The main purpose of building a wine cellar is

to protect the wine from environmental factors that will

compromise the quality of the wine. Factors such as light,

high temperature or low humidity will all affect the wine in

an adverse way. Wine is a living thing that must be

protected from fluctuating temperatures, heat and light as

well as vibrations. With proper storage, wine not only

maintains its freshness but also improves the quality of its

aroma, complexity and flavor.

Therefore, a quality cellar should not only maintain the

vibrancy of the wine but also improve it. The right

temperature in a cellar should range from 13 to 18

degrees C and it should be free from vibration. If the

temperatures change from season to season, it should

vary by less than 10 degrees C. For centuries, the French

have stored their wines in underground caves at these

temperatures and that is how people gauge the level of

temperature for wine storage. To ensure that the final

product has qualities of a well matured wine, the

temperatures should not be higher than 18 degrees C as

the wine will mature too fast. Wines that mature too fast

will often taste more like vinegar and not have the refined

and delightful flavor of a fine wine.

Active or passive describe the cooling system used in the

wine cellar. A wine cellar with an active cooling system

requires insulation and a vapor barrier installed. A special

wine cooling unit is then installed in the wall to ensure that

the temperature and humidity are maintained at the correct

levels. Many above ground cellars will require a cooling unit

to maintain a constant temperature. Geographic areas that

are naturally very cool are often suitable for a passively

cooled wine cellar. Most underground cellars are passively

cooled and frequently a well-constructed and well-insulated

basement cellar can be passively cooled. A passive wine

cellar requires no energy to operate. They are therefore

cheaper to build and run albeit sometime unreliable in

extreme weather.

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