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By Tania MacPhee, March 13th, 2014

5 Wine Cellar Mistakes to Avoid

5 Wine Cellar Mistakes To Avoid

We all know wine needs to be cellared correctly so it matures as the winemaker intended. The problem is many cellars are built without the proper insulation, equipment or technical knowledge needed to do the job properly. Lots of good wine has been ruined and money wasted this way. To avoid this happening to you, it is critical to consult an expert and give due consideration to your cellar equipment early in the planning stage. It is never too early.

In his many years specialising in wine storage and wine cellars, Craig MacPhee, director of EuroCave, has seen a lot of mistakes made. “Too many people don’t consult an expert early enough and end up spending more time and money later to fix problems, or end up ruining a lot of good wine”, says MacPhee.

So, what are the biggest mistakes people make when building a cellar?

Mistake 1 – Assuming underground cellars will be cool all year round

The mention of an underground cellar conjures up images of the wine ‘caves’ of Europe. These traditional cellars are fully subterranean and often meters under the earth. It is rare to find a naturally cold and stable cellar in Australia.

“People assume that underground cellars are naturally cool” says MacPhee. In reality, the opposite is often true. “In summer, and especially if they have a concrete ceiling, these spaces can become ‘hot boxes’ and the result is cooked wine. These cellars then become cooler in the winter months, and this variation in temperature is detrimental to wine.”

Mistake 2 – Not using correct climate control equipment

Installing a conventional air conditioner in your cellar is a major mistake. “Air conditioners won’t consistently keep the temperature low enough and they don’t manage humidity properly”, says MacPhee. Ideal cellaring temperature for all wine is 14 degrees, plus or minus one degree, whilst humidity needs to be between 55% and 75%. “If air humidity is too low, this inevitably leads to corks drying out, letting in air and oxidising the wine. If air humidity is too high, you get label mould.” Needless to say, storing wine in a cellar without any type of climate control equipment comes at a great risk.

The solution here is to install proper climate controlled equipment such as the EuroCave Inoa cellar conditioner that maintain a consistent low temperature and the high humidity required to cellar wine correctly.

Mistake 3 – Inadequate insulation or the wrong product

Too often, Craig has seen cellars with inadequate insulation. A cellar must be properly insulated with the right type of material. This allows the cellar conditioner to function efficiently and reduces the amount of energy used. Insulating is easy and less expensive if planned at the beginning of construction, but can be very costly if it has to be corrected or added later” says MacPhee.

Mistake 4 – Poor choice of door

Another common mistake is choosing a cellar door simply for its aesthetic appeal. “The cellar door needs to be technically correct and made of the proper material, and good insulation is needed; otherwise all the good work is lost. In saying this, the door also needs to be in keeping with the total look of the cellar and it is quite tricky to get all this right.”

Mistake 5 – Poor Wine Racking

“I’ve seen a lot of people spend a lot of money on racking that might look great but it doesn’t function properly, isn’t user friendly and doesn’t take a wine collector’s changing needs into consideration. As a result, people become quite frustrated with their cellar” says MacPhee.

Wine racking should provide the right mix of storage solutions to cater to different bottle and case sizes, as well as current and future wine buying styles. There are a myriad of wine racks available at various prices. “Getting the balance right between the appearance, convenience, space optimisation and budget is a challenges when selecting wine racking and you should deal with someone who carries a broad range so that all these factors can be considered” states MacPhee.

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Other Considerations

The above list is by no means exhaustive. It goes on to include issues such as wine friendly lighting, appropriate flooring, adequate airflow and ventilation, flood prevention and other technical aspects. The solution here is to get professional advice on your wine cellar early in the planning stage. Craig MacPhee sums it up nicely “If you engage a professional early in the project, you will overcome a lot of problems and you will have the dream cellar you’ve always wanted.”

EuroCave Australia have assisted many leading architects, designers, builders and wine collectors throughout Australia to create beautiful, technically correct wine cellars. Bringing wine to perfect maturation is at the heart of EuroCave’s business.

Please visit. www.eurocave.com.au or call 1800 733 621 for wine cellar conditioners, wine racking and specialist advice.

About EuroCave…

EuroCave invented the wine cabinet in 1976 and have continued to deliver market leading quality and innovation ever since, making them the world leader to this day. EuroCave products are designed and manufactured in France and are used in more homes, leading restaurants and wineries around the world than any other brand. EuroCave subscribes to the principles of Sustainable Development.

Learn why more restaurateurs, sommeliers, wine industry professionals and wine enthusiasts choose EuroCave above any other brand.

For more information, or to have a complimentary information pack posted to you, please visit www.eurocave.com.au. For expert advice please call 1800 733 621.

EuroCave. Superior Quality, Superior Protection, Superior Enjoyment.

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