1. What is the size of your collection?
Size is the first aspect to consider. Do you want to keep a collection of around 30 wines at a time, or would you like to fill up a cellar with thousands of bottles? Perhaps you prefer to drink most of your wines young, but want to put a few special drops aside. Or maybe you’re a fiend for aged wine and buy a case every time you find something you love. Whatever works for you is great, as long as you know how much space you require.
2. Do you want a wine cabinet or a wine fridge? Or both?
It’s common to talk about buying a ‘wine fridge’ for your bottles when what you might actually want is a cabinet. Wine fridges cool drinks. They're suitable for serving wine at the right temperature, but they are not necessarily the best for cellaring. The recommendation is that your age-worthy bottles should stay in this type of storage for no longer than five months. A wine cabinet has a stable temperature, is installed in a dark area to avoid UV, is not subject to vibrations and comes with airflow to prevent mould on your wines. There is also the option to purchase a wine cabinet that comes with serving and cellaring capabilities. These have different compartments for different purposes, meaning you can keep reds at ambient temperatures, white wines chilled and cellaring wines at between 12 and 14 degrees.
3. Do you want something permanent, or more flexible?
Would you like wine storage that fits seamlessly into your home, or are you happy to have a movable unit that you can slot into whatever space works? If you’re an entertainer with an eye for design and know you’re going to be in your home for a long time, perhaps you want to consider the former. If you’re renting or on the go and only want somewhere to store your wines in the right condition, freestanding will work fine (and you can also find these in sleek styles). The pros of freestanding are that it's affordable and a good option if you’re new to cellaring and still figuring out what you like, and the cons are that its design is fixed and you might not have a space it can neatly fit. In-built storage offers the option to match up the cabinetry to that of your kitchen or elsewhere in your home and can come without a visible handle. The downside is that if you want to expand your collection, you’ll need to undertake a mini-renovation. If you’re confident of the number of wines you’d like to keep, however, in-built storage can be a stunning feature of your home.
I’m happy to tuck my wine cabinet into any corner that works.
I’m an entertainer and want a wine cabinet that’s a showpiece of my home.
As long as my wines are kept in the right condition, I don’t mind.
4. What kind of wine do you like to drink?
All wines aren’t made equal. That applies not only to varietal, quality and style but also to its various shapes and sizes. There are tall, skinny riesling bottles, fat-bottomed Champagne bottles, magnums, jeroboams and more. Something like a walk-in cellar can cater for all kinds of wines thanks to its expansive space. For this reason, many wine cabinets have flat shelves rather than ridged ones, allowing you to stack and stand your bottles, and move shelves up and down to cater for larger formats. Knowing that you have a preference for larger bottles or a mix of styles will help you decide how much space you require. Do you want something to encourage your cellaring? If so, think a little bigger. As you continue on your wine journey, you’ll want more room to experiment. A larger unit will allow you to grow your collection and invest in different kinds of wines.
5. What’s your budget?
Perhaps you aspire to have a walk-in wine cellar or a custom-fit cabinet, but right now you just want to get into the game. You can keep your special wines nice at various price points and invest in more storage down the track, with those drink-now bottles easily stowed in the fridge or on an everyday wine rack until such a time as your cellaring collection grows.