Wine Talk

Snooth User: BrandonA

Wine Storage Advice

Posted by BrandonA, Sep 2, 2014.

Hi Everyone,

I've scoured the forum and I just can't quite find the answer I was looking for so I thought I would throw out a new topic.  My wife and I have recently started getting more serious regarding our wine collection.  We have purchased several wines recently, and intend on increasing purchases in the near future (once baby #2 arrives).  

Currently our small collection of 5 or so cases is sitting in the shared basement of our apartment building (a three flat here in Chicago).  The wine is in the case it came from the winery in and sealed (the boxes are discreet and I would be shocked if our neighbors were any the wiser to what is inside).  I have been monitoring the temperature and humidity and from July on  and the temperature has been between 66-69 degrees which I know is not ideal, but the low fluctuation and below 70 has given me some comfort.  The humidity is always around 60%.

What I am looking for is some advice.  What would you do in my situation?  Leave it down in the basement until it is too much?  Purchase a wine cooler that can accommodate a small collection for a couple years (assume around ~200 bottles)?  Or, use an offsite storage facility?

I am really not leaning one way or the other.

Thanks in advance for any insight you can provide from your experience.   


Reply by dmcker, Sep 2, 2014.

The temperature down in the basement is too high for longerterm storage. Plus it looks as if you are also concerned that security may become an issue at some point. If you want to start laying down good bottles for longer periods of time you should come up with an alternative. Wine fridges are an option for those bottles you plan to access over the next few months or year or two, but for longer periods I prefer passive storage if at all possible. Plus no matter their size wine fridges soon max out. Offsite commercial options can get costly over time, though they are otherwise reliable. Any friends or family with a good cellar you might use?

Reply by BrandonA, Sep 2, 2014.

Thanks DMCKER – unfortunately no friends or family nearby with a good cellar we could borrow –

Any thoughts on what to look for in an offsite option?  I’ve seen some that are wine specific ( which are pricier but likely more secure and concerned about wine only, or I have seen wine lockers that are just another part of an otherwise storage facility.  Any usual things to consider when looking to offsite storage?

Although I was not leaning one way or the other, the whole, part passive, part wine cooler solution seemed most appropriate to me.

Reply by dvogler, Sep 2, 2014.


Are these mixed cases of stuff that is cellarable?  Or are these the same thing and you just like it and will drink it?  If you're collecting trophies and are intending to sit on them, I'd place an ad or talk to wine shops and tack up an ad requesting the use of space in a fellow wine-lover's crawlspace or cool basement, maybe say you'll share a bottle or something down the road.  This may seem weird, but personally I'd try it.  If these are things you'll be picking away at over the next several months, I'd leave them where they are.  Do you have about four square feet of floor space to devote to a wine fridge? 

Reply by BrandonA, Sep 2, 2014.

Thanks DVOGLER - are aiming to get a cellarable collection.  Currently, half will need several years (some recent California vintages from Ridge, Pride Mountain, Turnbull and misc. others) and some others just sitting on as you say.  But our intent is to cellar wines ourselves as a hobby.

Funny you would say put out an ad.  Actually asked my local bottle shop nearby what he does and he said he said he was thinking of selling space in their cellar.  However, that seems to be falling through.  Still an option I hope.  

Do you have any suggestions for a wine fridge?  I've researched a variety and it seems once you start spending a lot of money on them, there may not be a huge difference if you just go with a big nake like EuroCave or N'FINITY.  We have a 38 bottle one currently (GE) that went to crap about two years ago that is more a wine rack currently.


Reply by Really Big Al, Sep 2, 2014.

I recommend a wine fridge with a capacity of a few cases.  Keep drinking the wines and store the good ones in the fridge for up to 1-2 years.  Rotate the bottles to passive storage if you get too many but otherwise just drink enough to address the overflow.

Reply by GregT, Sep 3, 2014.

Brandona - Chicago is too warm for basement storage. If you could get really subterranean, it would probably be OK. But how long are you looking to store your wines? The wines you mentioned are pretty drinkable now actually. They may benefit or change with storage, but that doesn't mean they're not worth drinking sooner. The only reason to keep wine is so that it will improve, i.e. change for the better with time. If a wine is good today, why hold it till tomorrow?

That's a long way around answering your question but if you are thinking like 20 years, then get something that will either hold a LOT of wine or use outside storage or build yourself a wine cellar in your home, provided you own it or have a really long term lease. If your horizon is only like five or ten years though, I'd worry about it a lot less. Maybe not in the shared basement though!

But I'm drinking a 2004 Garnacha from Australia at the moment and it's still primary. No real profound changes at this young age and I don't expect it to become much better. However - it's been stored at essentially basement temps. When it comes to wines that are well-made and stabilized, we're lucky today in that most of those wines are also pretty hardy. They're not likely to go off like some wines from the 1950s or some "natural" wines. Ridge and Pride and Turnbull - that's very competent winemaking and those wines are not going to crap out on you real fast. And by Ridge, I assume you're talking about the Monte Bello Cab? The Zins are some of the few that can age, but they don't really need to.

Congrats on the baby. But don't let it ever read this thread! You don't want the baby to think that it was an interruption in your wine collecting hobby! You'll end up spending a lot more money for counseling than you'd ever pay for storage!


Reply by JonDerry, Sep 3, 2014.

Domaine Wine Storage in Chicago would seem to be a good option for you.

Nothing like knowing your best bottles are getting the best possible treatment. What is nice about off-site storage is that they can also accept shipments for you, holding the wines temporarily at ideal conditions until you find a convenient time to come in and stow them away, usually 30 days is pretty standard before additional fees may apply.

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