Displaying your wine collection involves more than just finding the prettiest way to show off the bottles that you won. Wine requires proper storage to last for long periods without negatively affecting its taste and aroma.
Wine racks are a good display method for empty wine bottles that you’ve collected. Most wines need to be kept in a temperature-controlled environment, so a wine chiller or cellar is a better option for preserving your wine collection. Wine displays can be organized using wine tags or apps.
If you want to display your wine, you need to know which wines should be kept in cold storage and which wines are safe to store at room temperature in a wine rack. Read on to learn more about how to display your wine for both function and aesthetics.
What Constitutes a Wine Cellar?
Traditionally, a wine cellar is a room in your home where the temperature and humidity are carefully contained to present the best conditions for the long-term storage of wine. Wine cellars are used by those who have large wine collections, while those who have smaller wine collections may use a wine chiller or wine fridge instead.
Once you’ve decided whether you plan for your collection to be big enough for a fridge or a whole room, here are some of the main components you should consider when you’re designing your wine collection (Source: Chef John Ash):
- Consistent ambient temperature: Shifts in temperature can harm the quality and flavor of wine over time.
- Humidity: Humidity is an important part of wine storage because it helps to keep the corks in the wine damp. If the corks get too dry, they start to dry and may allow oxygen into your wine bottles.
- Still air: Keeping the air in the wine cellar is another crucial part of keeping your wine corks from drying out. The more circulation you have in your wine cellar, the more dehydrated your wine corks will get from evaporation.
Maintaining these conditions is difficult to do in an entire room without a series of expensive environmental controls. However, these conditions are much easier to sustain in a wine chiller or fridge.
Advantages of a Wine Cellar
When it comes to showing off your wine collection, there are many advantages to setting up a temperature-controlled wine cellar or wine fridge rather than just putting a wine rack up on your living room wall and calling it good. Here are a few of the benefits you can get by investing in a wine cellar for displaying your collection (Source: Harcraft):
- Prevents wine from spoiling: If you only drink cheap everyday grocery store wines, a bottle of wine that has gone to vinegar isn’t that big of a deal. If you have a serious wine collection, however, you’ll want to keep it in a stable environment to prevent any changes to the flavor or aroma.
- Protects against vibrations: Vibrations can cause sediment in red wine to get mixed into the body of the wine, negatively affecting its flavor. Ideally, wine should not be moved around until it’s ready to be uncorked and served.
- Allows you to buy in bulk: When you find a good deal on types of wine you love, you’ll want to go ahead and invest in six bottles or even a case of the wine to make sure you’ll have access to it when you want it. A full wine cellar gives you plenty of room to store your backup bottles, allowing you to pay less per bottle.
- Improve your home’s value: If you build a wine cellar into your home, you can make the details of the wine cellar match the aesthetics of the rest of the house. Making sure to include the themes of your home decor into your wine cellar’s design can help it integrate more seamlessly into the rest of the residence.
- Helps with wine organization: Buying a wine cellar or wine fridge allows you to organize your wine collection more efficiently. This can show you which wines you have and which ones you have yet to collect.
If you’re serious about collecting a large wine collection, investing in a wine cellar can give you a lot more flexibility with what you can reasonably store.
How to Arrange Wine in a Chiller
For everyday wines, you’ll want to think about getting a wine chiller instead of a full wine cellar. Wine chillers are good for wines such as wine wines that taste better when served at a lower temperature. They’re also a good place to store and display the wines you plan to drink throughout the month rather than wines you’re storing as vintage bottles.
Here are a few tips for arranging wine for display in your wine chiller (Source: Serious Eats):
- Categorize your wine according to occasion. You’ll have different types of wine you want to drink such as everyday wines, special occasion wines, and party wines. You may also keep a section of wines just for cooking if you like to cook with wine frequently.
- Do some wine tastings. You won’t have a good idea how broad your palate is when it comes to wine until you’ve tried many different kinds of wine. Wine tastings will help you refine your tastes and figure out which types of wine you want to invest in for your wine collection.
- Don’t buy more wine than you can store in the chiller. It’s easy to overdo it when buying wine when you first get enthusiastic about the hobby of wine collection. However, your wallet will thank you for taking it slow and increasing your collection a few bottles at a time rather than shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars in one shot.
A chiller can give you space to store between twenty and forty bottles, which is a great way to jumpstart your wine collection when you’re first getting started. However, if you want to display your favorite wines, you’ll want a wine rack for your empty bottles.
Wine Racks vs. Wine Fridges
When it comes to displaying your wine collection, many people will place their wine in a tabletop or wall-mounted wine rack. If you go through your wine fairly quickly and your home is humid and cool enough to keep wine, you can display some of your everyday wines in a rack like this.
However, wine racks are a better option for storing your empty wine bottle collection. By using a wine rack in this way, you can decorate with the beautiful label art on your wine bottles without exposing your wine to fluctuating temperatures, air circulation, and humidity levels. (Source: Houzz)
Storing vs. Displaying Wine
Displaying your wine collection and storing your wine collection involves looking at two different aspects of wine collection. When you’re displaying wine, here’s what you’ll want to look at:
- Material of the wine rack: The asethetics of your display wine rack can give the room a very different look depending on whether you use wood, metal, or plastic. All materials are relatively equal when it comes to displaying and storing wine.
- Label visibility: One of the main reasons you’d want to display your empty wine bottles is to show off some of the art on your wine labels, as well as the name of wineries you’re interested in keeping up with. Choose display racks or setups where the label of the wine is clearly visible.
- Horizontal or vertical: When you’re storing wine bottles that still have wine in them, you’ll want to store the wine horizontally so the cork doesn’t dry out. If you’re storing empty wine bottles to display in your wine collection, however, it doesn’t matter whether the bottles are displayed horizontally or vertically.
Empty wine bottles are best for displaying your wine collection since you can display them anywhere in the house without having to worry about controlling air circulation, humidity levels, and ambient temperature. Since you’re displaying the empty wine bottles simply for their looks, you can keep your full wine bottles elsewhere in a chiller or cellar to keep them fresh.
Should Full Wine Bottles Be Displayed?
Wine racks are a great way to display empty wine bottles in your wine collection, but they should be avoided for displaying full wine bottles. Unless you’ve got wine racks installed in a temperature-controlled wine cellar, displaying full wine bottles anywhere else in the house will expose them to environmental fluctuations that will eventually degrade the wine over time.
Where to Put Your Wine Collection
Where you decide to display your wine collection depends on the layout of your house and what kinds of access you have to environmental control systems. Here are a few ways that you can display your wine collection in a wine cellar:
- Sunken spiral wine cellar: A sunk wine cellar can be a great way to store wine in a communal place without the cellar taking up space in your floor plan. Instead, this cellar is built beneath the floor of the room and contains a glass display hatch that allows guests to see the spiralized arrangement of wine underneath. (Source: Genuine Cellars)
- Wine wall: Wine walls are a popular layout for wine cellars and are a good choice for those collectors who have a large amount of wine to store. Wine walls require careful organization if you don’t want to end up searching endlessly for the bottle of your choice.
- Under stairs wine cellar: The space underneath a staircase is often underused in residential floor plans, and this alcove is a great spot for a small wine cellar. Adding spot lighting can turn this type of wine cellar into a beautiful showcase, though this style of wine cellar can be expensive to install. (Source: DigsDigs)
There are many different options for displaying your wine collection that can strike a nice balance between showing your wine off and keeping it safe from environmental shifts that might ruin its flavor. Be sure that your long-term storage wines are stored correctly to get the most out of these vintage bottles.
Where to Avoid Putting a Wine Collection
Location is a serious part of figuring out how to display your wine collection, and just as there are good locations to put your wine collection, there are also bad places to put your wine collection. Here are some of the places you should avoid putting a wine collection:
- In direct sunlight: Direct sunlight can oxidize wine and cause it to develop off-flavors, so wine should ideally be stored in darkness. This is especially true for wine that comes in clear or light-colored bottles, since this wine is more vulnerable to ultraviolet light than wine that is bottled in dark glass.
- In the kitchen: The kitchen is one of the warmest rooms in the house, so this is one of the worst places in the house to display your wine collection. Warm temperatures can sour your wine fast, so pick a different room of the house for your wine collection unless you’re keeping it in a wine chiller. (Source: Wine Magazine)
- In a drafty area: Air circulation can dry out your wine corks and can cause oxygen to contaminate your wine over time, so choose an area that is well away from any air conditioning vents or other circulation. This can also keep wine bottles from being affected by the vibrations of HVAC equipment.
Keeping your wine in a wine fridge can help you maintain environmental control even if you don’t have the money to invest in a full wine cellar. A wine fridge or chiller can solve any of the environmental issues you may run into by placing your wine collection in certain locations around your house with regards to light, humidity, and temperature.
How Long Before Wine Needs Proper Storage?
Wine needs to be put in storage and used within three to five days of opening, but it can be stored for several years before use as long as it goes into proper storage. Here’s a breakdown of how long you can store different types of wine for display (Source: Healthline):
- White wine: Everyday white wine can be stored for 1-2 years after the wine’s printed expiration date. As long as they have been stored in good environmental conditions, they should still be good to drink.
- Red wine: Red wine can last 3-5 years after the printed expiration date if it is stored properly. Keep in mind that it is especially important to keep red wines in a dimly lit area to avoid ultraviolet light damage.
- Fine wine: Fine wines are made to last much longer than everyday table wines and will age gracefully even after 10-20 years of careful storage in consistent environmental conditions. These are the only types of wine that can be stored for very long periods without suffering a downgrade in flavor.
You might end up separating your wine collection into a display of your everyday wines and a display of your vintage wines. This will give you a good overview of which wines you need to drink quickly to prevent them from spoiling versus wines that you are safe to set aside for anniversaries or other special occasions.
Store Your Wine Properly to Prevent Spoilage
Displaying your wine collection is a fun part of collecting it, but you’ll need to keep the temperature, humidity, light conditions, and even the positioning of the wine bottle in mind to make sure it’s stored properly.
Save your display racks for empty wine bottles you collect from your favorite vintages. This allows you to show off your wine while leaving your best stuff hidden away in proper storage conditions. Using this method, you’ll ensure your wine still tastes good whenever you get around to drinking it!