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Snooth User: morris butler

Building a wine room

Posted by morris butler, Mar 28, 2009.

any tips on building a wine room in your house? It is going to be 6ft wide and 14ft deep, so not all that big.

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Reply by Philip James, Mar 28, 2009.

Morris - thats out of my realm of expertise, but i know there are others on the forum who've done this - am sure one will stop by and offer any advice.

How are you looking to do this? You're using an existing room, or you're sub dividing an existing room?

One thing I learned from some people who build commercial wine storage, is to not use traditional HVAC cooling units - they lower the humidity too much and the corks dry out, which spoils the wine.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 28, 2009.

Welcome, morris butler!

Interestingly enough there is a recent thread in the Forum called 'Building a wine cellar' that attempts to deal with this issue. Check out:
http://www.snooth.com/talk/#http://...

Would love to hear your experience as you do so--and about the wines that'll be going in/coming out of it!

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Reply by morris butler, Mar 29, 2009.

i am building a wine room within an existing room. So i have a chance to do something unique and fun.

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Reply by morris butler, Mar 29, 2009.

forgot to ask, what is the best way to stock the room. i am not looking to stock it all at once but need to buy around 500 bottles to get started. i hope to continue to add to it for many years to come. the room will hold nrth of 1000 bottles. i am a cab and merlot fan and have a good fell of what i will buy but i am wondering the best method of acquiring it.

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Reply by ton, Mar 29, 2009.

Maximum insulation is the key, if you think you have reached the max of insulation then double it and then quadriple it. Situate it in the coolest place in the house and finally you're ok.
See to is that the max temp does'nt get above 16 -18 degrees centigrade. If neccessary install a cooling with NO FAN.
Filling you cellar: visit auctions. Look for cabernet wines of statue. They will keep. Is is for a restaurant ?

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Mar 29, 2009.

Welcome to the forum Morris.

We've just begun to explore the depths of wine room construction so your input would be timely!

As far as buying the wine goes, where are you?

That might give us a start on helping identify the resources most convenient for you.

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Reply by morris butler, Mar 29, 2009.

macon georgia.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 29, 2009.

Heat is not the only issue. When the temperature drops too low, and stays there too long, that can damage the wine even more. And watch out for humidity. Low humidity (from the cooling units as Philip mentioned, or just environmental) is a definite no-no. If you've ever visited well-built longterm caves in France or California or wherever, you'll notice immediately the clamminess on your skin. Wines need that humidity, even though too much of it can lead to label damage.

Regarding collecting for the new storage capacity, you say you already pretty much know what you want. Keep an open mind, though, and watch for opportunities. I've run across estate sales in Switzerland where the widow has no idea what the husband collected and didn't really care. She was intelligent enough to get some advice, though, and the way it worked out with the one I participated in was I and several others were told the total number of bottles (over 5,000), and given the label info for less than 20 of them. We then had to make blind bids. That was fun, to say the least, but the interesting thing was that there were many, many real jewels in there that never made it to the 'samples' list. Another time my best friend from school days was buying out the dental practice of an older practitioner who was retiring, in Los Gatos near Silicon Valley. The older dentist had been a wine collector and offered several cases of wine as deal sweeteners to my friend. I ended up getting a mixed case of three bottles each of '59 Chateau Latour, '59 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, '61 Chateau Mouton Rothschild and '61 Chateau Haut Brion off the guy. This was 20 years ago, but I thought my purchase price of $200 each was pretty sweet, even then ;-). For sure keep your eyes and ears open for estate sales.

Those were some fun highlights, of course, but I also have enjoyed stocking my cellar through regular visits to vineyards on the West Coast of the US and throughout Europe, mostly. When possible I have always tried to buy six bottles each of wines I particularly liked so that I and my family and friends can enjoy the wine over the course of its maturation process. I live far away from these locales so shipping and transport becomes an important issue. If I could, I would prefer to buy in case lots, but have compromised my desires by settling on half-case volumes and even that's not always possible.

I'm not aware of a lot of good wineries in Georgia, but Greg or someone else should be able to direct you to a good wine merchant in your area. It's advisable, and more fun, to be able to talk to someone in person. When you get a chance to visit California or Oregon or Washington, you should take time to drop into some of the wine merchants there, as well as the wineries. You'll be able to pick up tidbits of information from the people who own or work in the stores that you might not come by easily otherwise. There are several good wine merchants located in the Snooth archives that I have used very happily in the San Francisco and Napa/Sonoma areas.

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Reply by Degrandcru, Mar 30, 2009.

Anybody knows what should be the ideal humidity or what would be acceptable humidity ranges? I use a storing room as a cellar, which has ideal temperature year-round, but I am not that sure about the humidity.

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Mar 30, 2009.

Regarding humidity 50-75% is probably a good range though the higher the better. I routinely see 80% plus in my cellar during the warmer months and that has caused significant label damage to many bottles located on my lower racks and/or stored in original cardboard boxes.

One way i regulate the humidity is by simply throwing a couple of open bags of charcoal briquettes on the floor under the racks. They do a great job of absorbing and releasing excess humidity.

Dm has some good tips on some of the ways he, and others, have been able to stock their cellars. I would suggest buying only as much wine as you plan to drink over the next 2-5 years at this point.

I don't know how long you've been actively exploring the world of fine wine but I for one can say that it took me a decade to really nail down which regions appeal the most to me and even now, 25 years after I started, I find my tastes continuing to evolve. I have few regrets regarding the wines I purchased in the past but do sometimes regret the quantities I purchased!

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Reply by ton, Mar 30, 2009.

Humidity is overrated. As long as you keep your bottles lying down you're ok. The cork has to remain wet. And in case of a plastic cork there's no humidity issue at all.

succes, Ton from the Netherlands.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 30, 2009.

Ton, I think it depends on how long you plan to cellar your wines. Even with the requisite laying down of the bottles you will find negative effects on the cork and wine ensue more quickly if the air is too dry over time. And since my cellar is 30 minutes away from where I currently live I'm afraid neither plastic-corked nor screwtopped bottles have yet wiggled their way into it. Once purchased they get drunk up rather quickly. Priorities, priorities...

I find, GDP, a somewhat different experience with my selection, most likely because of the logistical restraints in getting the bottles here. I wish I had picked up more of some of my favorite bottles back when I had the chance. Thinking back on them is a little like remembering fond old acquaintances that I might like to meet again but have lost touch with. And when I have bottles in it that should be drunk up because they're getting long in the tooth or are blocking space for better new bottles I seem to have no problem finding friends who will enjoy helping me empty those borderline bottles.. ;-)

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Mar 31, 2009.

Well that was half of what I was intending. I have purchased too many of some wines and too few of many others.

It's rarely difficult to get folks interested in sharing bottles but sometimes it can be surprisingly challenging. New York is amuck with wine snobs so when I have, for example, dinners featuring a vertical of old California Charbono or Teroldego from Trentino many of the usual suspects come up with some brilliant excuses such as my favorite, I don't like that grape.

I do not recall the last time I opted out of this sort of event, the more obscure the better in my opinion.

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 31, 2009.

Greg - I really do hope you are a member of the Wine Century Club - http://www.winecentury.com/ - that celebrates these exact tenets: no wine snobs and the more obscure varieties the better.

You can ask your local chapter chair, Philip, more about it.

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Mar 31, 2009.

No, not a member but know many of them. I went to a dinner about, oh at least 3 years ago, when a friend was celebrating passing the century mark. I just took a look at the site, recognize Chris Wilford in a photo and see Jeff Grossman's name prominently mentioned. I had no idea Philip was the Chapter chair. I wonder if anyone knows how to get an appointment with him?

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 31, 2009.

Well the local chapter being Snooth's offices, that is.


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