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Who doesn’t love a fine bottle of wine? There’s just something about a nice bottle of bubbly or a fine merlot that can put the cap—or cork—on a perfect day, or serve as the final ingredient to a romantic evening for two.
After all, wine selection is nothing to turn your nose up at; if you’ve ever had a particularly bad bottle, you know just how truly trenchant and wretched something as naturally-beautiful as wine can be when cultivated badly or stored incorrectly.
So how can you go about storing your fine drink so it doesn’t spoil? Storing wine is more difficult than storing most other kinds of liquid. When storing most other beverages, from Pepsi and Dr. Pepper to milk and orange juice, you just place them in the refrigerator, and presto!
Good as ever when you twist off the cap or lift the lid to take a sip of that cola! But wine, by its very nature, is a far more complex drink, and while those artistic and chemical complexities are part of the mystery and beauty of this complex brew, they also contribute to the finicky nature of the drink—store it at the wrong temperature, or in the wrong conditions, and poof!
Just like that, your fine merlot has spoiled to the souring point.
For most aficionados, a wine cooler or cellar is a great alternative. They can regulate the temperature for your bottles—sometimes even keeping different chambers at different temperatures, so as to allow you to chill your whites and preserve your reds at the same time—all while controlling the humidity and protecting your bottles from mites, pests, and harmful UV rays.
Then there are those that prefer a full-fledged wine cellar, built into a basement or other secluded, cool area of the home, a space that you can devote to keeping and collecting dozens or even hundreds of bottles.
But what if you’re not in the mood to spring for a full-fledged cellar or even a smaller wine cooler? Coolers and cellars are both fantastic options if you’re looking to preserve your bottles, but they can prove an expensive alternative, and you may not want to spend that much money if you’re just looking for the most basic wine storage, or don’t require the most advanced form of digitized temperature control.
Winsome Vinny Wine Rack, 24 Bottle with Glass Hanger available from Amazon
That’s where wine racks come in! The products represent a perfect middle ground between storing your bottles in a state of the art cellar and keeping them on the counter.
What is a Wine Rack?
This should be the most self-explanatory question to resolve. Simply put, a wine rack is…a rack which holds and displays wine. That sounds simple enough and, in a very real way, it is. Even so, there’s a lot of nuance in that simple answer.
For example, there are a lot of different ways in which bottles may be secured (if they’re secured at all), and there are likewise a wide variety of different building materials and conditions that you’re going to want to take into account.
Mango Steam 32 Bottle Wine Rack with Glass Table Top available on Amazon
To begin with, a rack, in its most basic terms, is a structure that holds and supports bottles in such a fashion as to display them “openly”—that is, free of glass or any kind of door. There are a variety of different aspects you’re going to want to consider, including the style and color of the rack.
Coolers, cellars, and racks are all, in part, pieces of furniture and, as such, you’re going to need to take your home décor into account.
If you really want to do the job well, consult online interior design guides and articles to make sure that the style you choose fits with the mood and feel of your interior spaces.
Wood vs. Steel Finish
In addition, you’re going to want to check into the manufacturer as well as the building materials—not all manufacturers are created equal and, likewise, not all building materials are equally suited to every environment or position. For example, if you live in a cooler, damper climate, some woods may be in danger of peeling or staining, and if you live in a warm area, a metal rack could inadvertently warm the bottles.
As such, the decision between wood and steel is one of the first decisions you’re going to have to make.
Ventilation and Type
Another vital aspect of this decision is to take ventilation into consideration. Ventilation is an understated yet absolutely essential part of the wine storage process. When you uncork a bottle conventional wisdom holds that you give it just a little bit of time to “breathe” while it sits there on the countertop.
The same holds true for when you’re storing bottles via a rack—you want to make sure that the room itself is well ventilated and, most importantly of all, that it’s neither too humid nor too frigid.
Racks don’t have temperature regulation systems like coolers or full-blown cellars, so you’re going to need to make sure that you set up your rack in an area that’s temperature controlled and has the right level of humidity.
If you’re looking into racks, you’re going to want to take the type of wine you’re storing into consideration. As a (very) general rule, whites are far more finicky when it comes to temperature; keeping them in an area that’s too cold could affect the taste, and keeping them in an area that’s too warm will completely ruin them.
The following are just a few of the finest examples of quality examples that Amazon has to offer.
True Fabrications Wall Mount Rack (Holds 9 Bottles)
Chances are, you’ve seen this type of rack at a bar or in a restaurant. This is a perfect example of wrought iron being used in the construction of a wine rack. What’s more, this outing from True Fabrications includes screws for mounting.
That’s another choice you’re going to need to make when deciding on a model – do you want a freestanding rack or a model that require being screwed or bolted to the wall?
True Fabrications Wall Mount Wine Rack (Holds 9 Bottles) available on Amazon
Both have their virtues. On the one hand, freestanding units are generally more portable, and the possibilities for their placement in your home are therefore more open-ended and numerous. On the other hand, because they’re bolted or screwed directly into the wall, fixed models potentially offer a greater degree of sturdiness, as such, you can rest assured that these models will keep your bottles in place and secure.
All of this is the case with this outing from True Fabrications, which holds 9 bottles, all in a horizantal position.
120 Bottle Rustic Wood Rack
This 120 bottle model by G.E. Lumber is a perfect example of the alternative to the above option. Rather than being a small, inconspicuous, screwed-down metal rack, this offering, manufactured in Oregon, is large, impressive wooden freestanding unit.
120 Bottle Rustic Wood Wine Rack available on Amazon
Contrasting the True Fabrications and G.E. Lumber models is a good way to compare and contrast the nature of the various different styles in wine storage units available. For example, the True Fabrications unit is made to use immediately—no assembly required. On the other hand, that also means that it can’t be customized, meaning that you’re going to need to hope that your bottles can fit into the slots.
That may seem like a small concern, but when it comes to the wide world of wine, the small things really do make a difference. Bottles are somewhat standardized in size, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t outliers—if you have a particularly “fat” bottle, you may find yourself out of luck with a set, iron model, whereas the G.E. Lumber model can be customized.
Indeed, while the metal unit is set in its capacity, the freestanding wooden model can hold as many as 120 bottles—quite an impressive number and prefect if you enjoy a bottle at every evening meal or if you host a number of wine parties. However, the G.E. Lumber unit also requires assembly, albeit not too much, all things considered.
On the whole, units that are bolted down have a better chance of withstanding something like an earthquake (something which is certainly of concern in certain wine-happy regions such as California). That being said, the G.E. Lumber unit comes with a free earthquake strap upon request.
Finally, while the metal model is already finished and ready to go, the wooden unit is unfinished, allowing you to leave it looking natural or stain and finish it according to your taste.
Both choices have their pros and cons, and both represent clear and distinct choices when it comes to the wide world of wine racks.
The Kamenstein Butterfly Rack
There are those that want a rack not so much for practical reasons as much as for reasons of personal interest and interior decorating. After all, wine is a classy drink, and showing off a bottle collection is a great way to turn your average apartment from so-so to chic without breaking the bank. To that end, there’s definitely a market for racks that are more geared toward the decorative side than towards the actual business of large-scale storage.
This elegantly shaped rack holds up to eight bottles in a remarkable design that features slots for one bottle, two, three, and two again, with the top slots left “open” so as to allow for that “butterfly” design.
A perfect example of the marriage between modern art and interior decorating, the sleek wood paneling shining in the light and each plank fitting so perfectly into each slot that it’d make IKEA blush. There is a casual, yet artistic air about this storage unit that makes it a fantastic option for those looking to spice up their home decorating or get started with a wine storage option that’s small and portable, even if it does require some assembly.
But enough about the form, what about the rack’s actual “function?” Not only does it hold the bottles snugly in place despite its open design, but the angle at which the Karmenstein Butterfly holds the bottles allows for the corks to stay free of moisture and fresher longer.
Causal Home Montego X
Winsome Wood 28-Bottle Rack
Finally, let’s take a quick look at this conservative, smooth, finely finished wooden option from Winsome Wood. This 28-bottle model is about as typical as you can get—wooden, some assembly required, 7 shelves, 4 slots per shelf, a design that’s freestanding and large enough to make its presence known while still not being so unwieldy as to make moving it impossible.
To Sum Up…
Whether you’re a wine aficionado or just have a passing fancy for it, and whether you crave the delicately balanced perfection that is a wonderful white or the raw flavor and intensity of a red, you’re going to want to make sure that you seek out a quality rack.
As shown, there’s so much to consider when looking for one. You have to consider the temperature, your decorating needs, how many bottles you want to keep, the humidity, whether you prefer metal or wood, whether you’re OK assembling something yourself or instead want something shipped to you already assembled, and whether you want a freestanding unit or one which is bolted or screwed to the wall.
That’s a lot to keep in mind, to be sure, to say nothing about all the little intangibles and subtle differences that are so much a part of the wine game. But really, would you have it any other way? After all, all those differences lend a spirit of creativity and flavor to the enterprise, and make it an engaging and fulfilling one at that. Sure, it’s a decision fraught with complexity, but then, so are so many of the best vintages.
So armed with this information, get thee out into the wide world of wine and pick out the rack that suits your tastes today!
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!