Having a wine rack is a milestone for every respectable sommelier. Whether it is in its own wine cellar, being displayed in the living area of your home, or in the pantry, the dimensions of your wine rack are just as important as the wine you place in it.
Wine racks can be other depths besides the 14.5”, depending on whether you want more of the bottle to show. A different design will allow for different parts of the bottle to be displayed, from the finish, neck, and shoulder to the label or punt. Read on to learn about the wine rack dimensions that will complement your wine bottles.
Bottle Height Determines the Width of the Rack
Most often, a rack is made with a particular type of wine bottle in mind. And not all wine is created equal, both in taste and in bottle size. While a standard bottle is 12” tall and 3.25” wide, there is a standard for other types of wine and nowadays many vineyards are starting to bottle their wines in novelty bottles.
A wine rack needs to be large enough to hold at least a standard bottle of wine, which is 12” tall and 3.25” wide. In a wine rack, bottles are usually stored on their sides. This means the depth of the rack needs to be 14.5” and have openings of 3.5” wide for the entire bottle to fit inside.
The traditional wine bottle heights are:
|Wine Bottle Type||Wine Bottle Dimension|
|Alace||13” by 2.875”|
|Big Champagne||13.5” by 4”|
|Bordeaux||11.75” by 2.75”|
|Burgundy||11.875” by 3.125”|
|Demi or Split||9.5” by 2.12”|
|Magnum||13.5” by 3.56”|
|Pinot Noir||11.875” by 3.125”|
|Small Champagne||12.25” by 3.25”|
|Turley||11.5” by 3.25”|
As you can see, the traditional 12” rule applies to most of these bottles, save for the demi, big champagne, and magnum. This makes the wine rack dimensions of 14.5” by 3.25” a standard for most bottles.
Wine Rack Height Depends on the Number of Bottles
How tall you would like your rack to be depends on how many bottles you want to store on it and where you want to put it. Obviously, it would need to fit in the space allotted where it will reside. But the number of bottles that it will be housing determines the rack’s height.
Rarely does a wine rack hold less than 12 bottles, giving it a 3 bottle wide by 4 bottle high configuration. This would be a tabletop rack or might be made so that it works as a side table. The dimensions would be approximately 12” wide and 15” high, allowing for a space or cubby for each of the bottles.
You can have racks that are as tall as the ceiling, holding 20 bottles horizontally or just the three bottle high models. They can span as wide as you have room or only one bottle wide. The variety is as endless as the imagination and the area you have to work with.
Non-Standard Bottle Dimensions
Non-standard bottles need wine racks that are made to accommodate them. The turley, big champagne, and magnum size bottles will not fit in the traditional 3.25” standard opening of a wine rack, due to their body width being too wide.
This is where wine racks become tricky for the true sommelier. A bottle of wine is not supposed to be jostled around too much. You want it fit snugly in its hole, whether the hole is cut round in wood or shaped ornately in iron. With the dimensions of the magnum sized bottles, the space in the rack for them is 4” wide.
This leaves your traditional 3.25” wine bottles rolling around the space, allowing cracks to form in the glass, possible leakage, and spoilage of the wine. How do you solve this problem of different bottle sizes?
Keep in mind that while racks come in all shapes and sizes, configurations and styles, they all share the common dimensions of being able to hold the classic 12” bottle of wine.
Types of Wine Racks & Dimensions
There are many kinds of racks that have different dimensions depending on the look, feel, and function you want from the rack. Not all of them have to be a tall bottle on top of a bottle type of deal. Although there is nothing wrong with this type of rack, as it is uniform and holds a lot of wine in a condensed space, there are other alternatives worth considering as well.
What function are you looking for in your rack? There are many options to choose from:
- Displaying the neck of the bottle
- Displaying the punt of the bottle
- Displaying different sized bottles
- Using the rack as an art piece for visual interest
- Using the rack as a utilitarian piece for holding bottles
Each of these types of uses will have a slightly different design of wine rack and therefore different dimensions.
Displaying the Neck of the Bottle
If you decide to choose a rack to display the neck of a bottle, instead of the depth being the traditional 14.5” deep, it will only be 7” deep. This allows for the colorful foil on the ends of the bottle to be displayed. It also allows for the color of the glass to be shown off. And, of course, grabbing a bottle by the neck without rack material in the way.
Displaying the Punt of the Bottle
To get the most out of displaying the punt of the bottle is a little difficult. The punt is the hump of glass at the bottom of the bottle. With novelty bottles, and some of the more traditional bottles with pale wines such as white and rose, the punt of the bottle can be quite fetching.
The cubby holding the punt will be either the normal 14.5” or a tiny bit smaller at 14-13.5” smaller to allow for some light to hit the bottle. Without this small amount of overhang, the lack of lighting would not allow you to see the punt very well, making the rack look like just the bottom of a bunch of bottles.
These types of racks are rare and usually custom made. You are most likely to find punt displays in novelty bottles or big champagne, turkey, or magnum bottles, which won’t fit in the normal 3.25” wide space meant for a traditional wine bottle.
Displaying Different Sized Bottles
These sorts of racks can usually be also placed in the ‘furniture as art’ category, as it is almost a necessity in order to fit the different sizes of bottles that wine is available. Racks of this sort will have holes or cubbies of different sizes, each individually made to hold the particular bottle of wine.
Or, they may be coordinated in a lattice style called a diamond cube:
- This is a series of criss-cross sections that come together to be shaped like diamonds
- For home use, the diamond cubes are usually 4” on each side, holding a total of 9 traditional 12” tall 2.25” wine bottles
However, with the 4” by 4” square on its side, so it is a diamond, the space to hold larger bottles (or smaller) has been made much easier. How the piece can hold both traditional bottles, demis, and magnum sized without the configuration of the piece changing. It all breaks up the eye from a tall, mono-horizontal piece for some interior interest.
Racks can also have spaces to hold bottles vertically, just as if they were on any other shelf, to accommodate these larger bottles. Some novelty bottles can reach up to 14” tall, so having this option can certainly come in handy.
Using the Rack as a Piece for Visual Interest
Furniture in your home should be pleasing to the eye, and your wine rack should be no different. There is nothing wrong with this being the first priority when you choose your rack. You want it to match the rest of your furniture, or you want it to stand out as a piece of art in its own right.
These pieces are usually boutique or custom made. They rarely hold more than 12 bottles, as their primary function is to decorate. They will most likely have either a 7” depth, an 11” depth so that only the very top of the neck sticks out, or the traditional 14.5” depth.
Boutique racks will usually have openings that are all the same size. They will be 3.25” wide for the traditional wine bottles, or they will be 4.5” wide in order to hold whatever kind of bottle you happen to bring home.
Custom made racks may have a variety of hole sizes for a variety of bottle sizes, adding the visual art interest of the piece. If you are ordering one, you can choose what kind of openings you would like for the wine in your collection.
Using the Rack as a Utilitarian Piece for Holding Bottles
These racks are usually not meant to be seen, but sometimes are. They are made for function over form These racks can be of any size, height and width don’t matter. They are 14.5” deep. This keeps the bottles secure and away from the light to keep them from deteriorating.
The width of the holes is almost always 3.25” wide. These are meant for holding traditional bottles of wine, as that is what is drunk on a regular basis and what you are doing here is simply holding wine.
Racks can also come as a piece of furniture with two cabinets on either side for storage. These can look like old-fashioned record entertainment centers from the 1960s and 1970s to refurbished sink cabinets. The cabinets are called the sideboard and the tabletop at the buffet.
What Is The Purpose of a Sideboard?
Some wine racks are part of a sideboard attachment. These are cabinets, usually on either side of the rack, making the rack itself a type of buffet table with a usable top. The sideboard on a wine cabinet does have a specific purpose.
It is to hold your wine glasses and wine service. Chances are if you have a wine rack, you have an array of wine glasses. All for your different types of wines. They need a place to live, and this is that place.
The purpose of the sideboard is a service platform. It is very handy to have a serving space from which to pour the wine and have guests gather to obtain their glasses and drinks.
Traditionally, the sideboard of a wine rack should only be used for storing the wine service. But nowadays, with the more casual feel of homes, placing object d’ecore on the tabletop is no longer considered faux pas.
The Modern Sideboard
The modern sideboard has taken on a different look than that of something more traditional. Times change, and the wine rack changes with them. It is rare that someone nowadays has an entire set of wine glasses for every type of wine out there. That leaves a lot of space in the sideboard for other things.
One of those other things is sometimes a wine fridge or cooler. This is a type of wine rack that is refrigerated to keep the wine at the optimum temperature for drinking. Wine is not meant to be drunk cold, but rather chilled, so a wine fridge is not the same as a regular refrigerator.
Wine coolers inside of the sideboard come in a few configurations, considering they are for the home. They are
- 2 bottles
- 4 bottles
- 8 bottles
- 12 bottles
- 18 bottles
Depending on how many bottles you are holding (and hopefully drinking), will of course, depend on the dimensions.
The 2 Bottle Cooler
With a 2 bottle cooler is usually a drawer in the sideboard measuring 7” wide by 14.5 inches deep. This is just large enough to put two traditional bottles in horizontally.
Occasionally the drawer will come with holders that keep the bottle in a snug fit so they don’t roll around when the drawer is opened.
The 4 Bottle Cooler
A 4 bottle cooler could be either a drawer or a cabinet fridge. The drawer measures 14” wide by 14.5” deep, keeping all 4 bottles snuggly fit together with a horizontal configuration. The fridge is vertically set up at 6” wide by 14.5” deep and about 21” high.
These always come with place holders to keep the bottles in place, either in the form of wooden half circles to place the bottle into or a foam cushion to lay the bottles on.
The 6 Bottle Cooler
A 6 bottle fridge will be set up with shelves on the horizontal, much like the 2 bottle drawer. At 14.5” deep it will hold any type of bottle. Usually set up as three shelves of two, they are usually 8” to 10” wide.
These tend not to have a foam bottom, as the drawers are not usually hidden within the sideboard, but are within the cooler itself. They tend to be refrigerator rack material, so that the cool air can flow all around the bottle
The 8 Bottle Cooler
The 8 bottle fridges could be horizontal or vertical. They have a 14.5” depth, but range from 10”-16” wide to accommodate the extra bottle on each shelf. This type of fridge can also hold larger or irregular bottles of wine.
Horizontal shelves, if it has them, are made of either plastic coated metal refrigerator racking or of glass shelving, so that the temperature and airflow can remain consistent around the bottle.
The 12 and 18 Bottle Cooler
12 and 18 bottle coolers resemble a mini-fridge with different shelving. They can be vertical but are most likely to be horizontal. These measure between 19”-20” high for the 12 bottle and 30”-34” for the 18 bottle, sometimes with a vertical shelf and a horizontal shelf, or with several horizontal shelves.
These allow the drinker to own several bottles in a compact space while keeping them cool, great for parties. They also allow for an array of bottle sizes for those who like many different types of wines.
Wine Rack Angles
Most racks will hold your wine perfectly horizontal, but ideally, you want your wine to be on a slight angle so that the wine is always touching the cork. A 10-degree angle is best, but any downward angle will do the trick. Some racks tilt up to 45-degrees. The purpose is to keep the wine touching the cork.
Cork is a type of wood, or if it is synthetic, is made to simulate corkwood. Because it is wood, it absorbs liquid. When it does, it expands slightly. This expansion keeps the bottle sealed, keeping it fresh for longer.
Because of this forward lean, the dimension of the rack has to be a certain height from the floor. Since the floor is a (or should be) a completely horizontal surface, it can not accommodate the angle of the cubby for the bottle. The rack will always be at least 3.25” from the ground to accommodate the neck of the bottle at the 10-degree angle.