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Scientists Reveal Shocking Discovery: Wine Can Be Stored Neatly!

Posted by on February 8, 2012

We’re challenged, and on many fronts. We have this wine hobby, and unlike collecting stamps – it takes up a lot of room. As if that’s not bad enough, wine needs to be stored a certain way, blah blah blah… After some binge purchases this year we were out of space and our dining room was becoming an impassable maze of upright wine bottles. After much debate, I decided that the quickest and least expensive option for expanded storage was going to be designing and building a built-in storage rack from untreated clear pine. Up till now we had been using the wine cubes that use an X of wood to separate bottles. In the interests of being good treehuggers, I rolled these into the design.

I grew up with a dad who was a consummate DIYer. “You want a dump truck, boy? Let’s build you one out of wood.” He would proceed to the workshop and after a week of cutting, carving, sanding, and varnishing I would have an amazingly detailed furniture quality dump truck that was not at all what I wanted. Kids are punks. (Seriously though – Tonka, Dad. For reals.) BUT, I did learn how to build things. That, and my time working in a carpentry shop in my early 20s made me feel like I could do this and not screw it up too badly.

Now, while I built counters and cabinets and tables, they were for science labs, not the local artisan’s guild. I was also under the constant supervision of Juan and Jose, two rockstar carpenters from Tecate. It’s a town, not just a beer. Look it up. Point being, I am not a natural carpenter, and as such I draw out all my projects in advance of my first lumber run. In fact, I use Google SketchUp to create 3D computer models of any home carpentry project, because otherwise I fall victim to the whole “cut it twice and it’s STILL too short” problem.

So here’s the computer model for the wine storage wall:


Sadly, I didn’t take any progress pics. I was sick as a dog for four weeks and just wanted to power through the project. With the aid of the internet I had diagnosed myself with consumption and bubonic plague, but VWD made me go to the doctor anyhow. Sorry for the lack of stages, but here’s the finished result:

I should mention that for all the folks who recently questioned our loyalty to Virginia wine – over 90% of those bottles are VA wine, and we paid for almost all of them. You’re welcome, Governor PrettyHair.

One detail I really wanted, that my partner fought me on, was lighting. I won (mostly because I installed it while she was at work) and I’m pretty happy with the result. It’s LED rope light, to keep from throwing too much heat behind the bottles, and I think it looks quite cool.

So that’s our wine storage! What do you do to keep yours neat and tidy?


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The Scientists Reveal Shocking Discovery: Wine Can Be Stored Neatly! by Swirl, Sip, Snark, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

26 Responses to Scientists Reveal Shocking Discovery: Wine Can Be Stored Neatly!

  1. Kirsten

    Wow….That is Beautiful!!! Great Job!! Now, can you build me one!? :)

  2. allan

    Do you worry about temperature control and humidity at all?

  3. VAWineDiva

    Kirsten – you’ll notice that you don’t see what our dining room looked like for the month-plus it took to get this project finished!

    Allan – sure I worry about that, but we live in an old house with wonky electrical and very little space. On top of that, pine and screws are cheaper than any temperature controlled storage options that would hold this much wine (never mind the electric bill). Finally, for now we’re only holding wine for a few years, so perfect storage matters a bit less than would be true with a truly long-term aging goal. That said, we may well upgrade at some point in the future as we chip away at renovations to the house (a bit of a 20 year project, I’m afraid).

  4. GrapeEnvyGuy

    allan – I worry about temp and humidity. I also worry about climate change, nuclear war, and Kim Kardashian not getting stranded on a rocky atoll in the Pacific. Given our current resources, I can control none of these, so I live with them.

    Interestingly enough, we were approached by the manufacturer of a line of wine fridges and asked if we wanted a free demo unit to test and review. I was on board (who wouldn’t be?!), until she said we would need to agree to review it almost immediately so they could use our post in their Christmas marketing. Yeah, no. If I’m reviewing a product, I’m running efficiency tests, calculating cost to run, etc. I’m not one of these blogwhores who writes glowing posts in exchange for free schwag.

    Of course, I could be swayed. I’m talking to YOU, Aston Martin.

  5. Laura

    after being repeatedly chastised by my SIL for keeping wine in the basement of a 1960′s house with wildly fluctuating temps & humidity, we broke down and bought a 100-bottle fridge (on sale!). It’s side-by-side with separate temp controls. We started out with whites on one side and reds on the other — now the reds far outnumber the whites, so we keep reds at the top (figuring it’s warmer) of the white side. Haven’t regretted it in the 8 years since!
    BTW – my SIL has worked in the wine industry for a few years, so we figured it wasn’t just BS.

  6. Peter

    Wow, that is one impressive collection. No wonder you were running out of space, it looks like you have well over 200 bottles!

    We are running into a similar predicament although we only have about 80 bottles. My bedroom is full of cases of wine. We were thinking about building a diagonal storage unit and attaching it to the wall. We just have to make sure that the wall can support that much weight.

  7. GrapeEnvyGuy

    Laura – trust me, I don’t doubt that the temp and humidity controls are important. That said, the long term goal is to redo my shed with a stone outbuilding that will have a cellar underneath it. Let’s just say that GEG Incorporated is going to have to have some banner years before that happens.

    Peter – my guess is that if you look online at cabinet manufacturers, someone probably has recommendations for the maximum load you can expect studs to carry. I wanted to build off the floor, both for stability and because we have drywall OVER lath and plaster. As old as our house is much of the framing is 4×6 lumber, so I could hang a Hyundai on the wall *if* I could hit a stud – which isn’t easy, given the 1″+ of material over them. Better safe than sorry.

  8. MEL810

    I am not yet to the point that I need to buy/make mega storage for my vino collection. I still am relying on a couple of wine racks that I really cheap at the thrift store.
    But your solution rocks!
    BTWY: Have you informed the cat that it is against federal/state safety regulations to lounge on a saw? And does your cat like to watch Gossip Girl on TV whilst eating prosciutto? Mine is a GG and prosciutto whore.

  9. allan

    ^^^^ Blogwhore (in case anyone who owns a wine cooler company is reading).

  10. GrapeEnvyGuy

    Mel – this cat isn’t one of ours; I have NO idea what I was searching for when I stumbled on this photo. It’s totally in line with their behavior, though. In fact, the youngest, dumbest one was trying to eat sawdust out of the dust collection bag on my compound mitre saw. My cats like to snore on my femurs while I play Wii. Tough life.

    Allan – I have so few standards that I have to make a huge deal of the ones I do have. I’ll happily put you in touch with the vendor. We’ll talk this weekend!

  11. Ed

    I started with a 34 bottle under counter unit as a b-day present from my wife. Needless to say it was filled very quickly. That and a few racks worked welll enough until we started going to the Finger Lakes. After 2 or 3 trips we had about 15 cases in the garage and summer was coming! In out garage, temp was a major concern and we ended up getting a 210 bottle unit on sale and free shipping.

    Fast forward and few years and quite a few trips to the lakes and to Virginia. Both cellars are full and we’ve overflowed into the crawl space. 9 cases at the moment…….

  12. Jen

    Awesome job! We are talking about how to store the stuff we have in the basement and were going to head to Ikea one of these days to see what we could find.

    I have a similiar Tarara case I was happy it came screwed shut, easier to just leave it sit for a while :)

  13. GrapeEnvyGuy

    Ed – I think my mom said it best when she came to visit and I had just started the wine racks and the bottles littered the dining room floor: “Son of mine, do you have a problem with alcohol?” To which I replied, “yes I do, Mom. It’s a ***** to store.”

    Jen – I haven’t looked at what IKEA has, but the first x-shaped wine storage thing we bought was from World Market. They’re dirt cheap, and all I did was use that one as a template to build the rest. You can stack them two high with no worries, you just have to contend with dust bunnies in the bottom cells.

    I love those wooden wine boxes. When I was little, my older brother worked at a liquor store and always brought them home. You can make a heck of a Star Wars playset with a wooden wine crate, some markers, and random electronic parts.

  14. Ed

    G – great story. love the “***** to store” line!

  15. Jordan Harris

    That is a beautiful wine box :)

    Really though, great job!!! I keep our wine in an ancient storm cellar that holds its year round temp and humidity quite well. Best part is it is under someone elses house and locked by me. I take away tehir storage, with only my access and it is safe. Hooray for me!!!

  16. Ruth

    Lol, I can’t get passed the cat on the saw…

  17. Crista

    What do I do to keep my wine storage neat? I DRINK IT ALL IMMEDIATELY! haha

  18. Jen

    Okay well we got our Ikea wire racks set up. They will do for now, not digging that they don’t seem to really fit the bottles, can’t explain it, but they don’t have good support for top of the bottle. I got our wine labels today, very happy about that, except, well most of the inventory is very telling with the screw top T!

  19. Jordan Harris

    Jen – those bottles sound like they are very special :)

    One of the biggest pains to anyone who holds on to some wine are those “creative” winemakers that think odd bottle shapes are cool. I personally hate any “non-traditional” or tapered bottles. They don’t fit in racks and if stacking create less sturdy piles. It has nothing to do with the wine, but make it hard to cellar in many cases.

  20. VAWineDiva

    Jen – that definitely sucks! Like Jordan, I prefer a traditional Bordeaux-bottle as they stack the easiest and fit most any storage system. As for all that Tarara wine – anytime you need some help freeing up storage space, just give us a call!

  21. Jen

    The very very special T wines are still in the box, figure they are safer there though we have held onto the D9 over a year now. Another thread reminded me we need more Fume Blanc! (and salted caramel chocolate)

    VWD you guys are welcome anytime. I keep thinking we’ll run into you one day, but then racking all our wine made me realize we spend most of our time in Loudoun County and with the wineries here why wouldn’t we?

  22. Ed

    I agree about the non-traditoinal or tapered bottles. Lots of pinot seems to come in the latter and they always try to slide out of the cellar!

  23. GrapeEnvyGuy

    Jen – hey, we def spend time in Loudoun. You never know!

    Ed – oddball bottles, especially dessert wine bottles, were a consideration in the design of this setup. In the originial plan, where you see the screwcap wines standing up, I was going to build a section of rack that had an individual slot for each bottle, so any bottle wouldn’t be dependent upon the shape of the one below it. Greed, Gluttony, and Lust are heavy hitters, but Sloth whoops ‘em all.

  24. Ed

    So does budget. Our cellar had the option for slide out shelves so that bottles woudl only be stacked 1 or 2 high. Problem – it ould have added several hundred dollars to the cost and reduced the capacity by a bunch.

  25. Jordan Harris

    Ed – The funny part about the Pinot’s in crazy bottles is the weight. Many of these producers (particularly Oregon Pinot) are Organic, Salmon Safe, Sustainable….however their bottles weight twice as much as a normal bottle. Seems kind of contradictory to me.

    Hope to see you this way again soon.

  26. Ed

    We should be down your way in late April. We’re looking forward to another VA trip! Exact days TBD when Linda talks to her cousins.

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