Estate agents say a well-designed wine unit can add up to 10% to the value of a property.
It can certainly be an attractive feature. A wine wall formed of climate-controlled glass cases is increasingly used by home designers in place of artworks or mirrors – and is far more functional!
Whilst such an installation can cost around £15,000, a far cheaper option is to use an old cellar. Wine is best stored underground away from light and to reduce temperature variation. It is best kept at 10-13˚C (50-55F) says Conal Gregory, Master of Wine.
Wine bins are the most suitable way to house bottles. As a guide, 10 dozen bottles can be fitted into 15 sq ft of space.
“Bottles should be stored horizontally so that the corks stay expanded and stop oxidation," says Conal. "Turn the bottles so the main label is upwards and then any deposit always forms on the lower side.
“Place tags over the bottle ends to identify the contents so that you are not constantly pulling the wine out.”
Above ground space should have the temperature fluctuation reduced by insulating walls and ceilings and by installing air-conditioning. Air humidity should also be controlled because dry air can lead to a loss of wine through evaporation whilst excess humidity can mean unwanted micro-organisms develop and rust forms on the equipment.
The storage area should be free from draught and away from central heating. Install a maximum-minimum temperature gauge and take regular readings. Keep the space clean and free from fuel, oil, vinegar and other odours.
A garage is unsuitable unless a section can be bricked off and the right conditions established. Racks in cupboards or wardrobes keep out the light but are not suitable temperature-wise. Garden sheds are particularly inappropriate.
Old coal storage spaces can be used whilst so often the area below a kitchen or conservatory is ideal and can be dug out. Conal suggests one obvious place to store wine which is so little used, is below a driveway. “Create a spiral cellar in any of these areas. With a 2.3m diameter, there is ample room to store up to 1,000 bottles at 2m depth.
“Wine refrigerators look attractive and the required temperature can be set with ideally one for white and sparkling wines and another for reds,” he adds.
However, they take up considerable space and house only a small wine collection whilst running costs are high.
“Finally, whichever wine space you create, insure at full replacement cost. In the event a claim had to be made, you do not want to lose all the extra value that has built up over the years.”