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Archive for October, 2013

Converting a Closet into a Wine Cellar

October 30th, 2013 No comments

You’d love to build a wine cellar in your house to accommodate your growing collection in style. But the only place it could possibly go is a small closet. Can this tiny space be converted to a wine cellar?

If done properly, many small spaces, even closets, can be converted into wine cellars. Check out this wine cellar for proof — it started out as a closet smaller than 4×4 feet! Wine closets can be a great way to add a space for wine storage seamlessly into a house, without the need for ripping out a wall or adding on to the existing structure.

However, converting a closet to a wine cellar isn’t easy. This is because a closet and a wine cellar are built for entirely different purposes. While a closet merely has to provide storage, a wine cellar must also provide a completely climate-controlled environment separate from the rest of the house. The inner walls of a wine closet must be sealed and insulated. A wine cellar cooling system must be installed to keep your bottles at the correct temperature and humidity. The door and any windows must be perfectly sealed to keep those conditions stable. And all of the wood and other materials used must not degrade with the high humidity.

Creating a wine closet can present other problems, too. Oftentimes, the closet in question is in the center of the house. This can mean that certain types of cooling systems will not work correctly, and those that do will have to be specifically installed. And closets near the center of the house are usually also not located close to an outside door, garage or exterior wall. Removing the drywall is a must, but it’s virtually impossible to do without creating dust and debris. Construction dust can be hazardous to human health, potentially causing reactions to people with asthma or other lung conditions who are living in the house during construction.

Do all these potential problems mean you should give up on your dream of turning that hall closet into the perfect cellar? Not at all! Instead, they mean that if you’re converting a closet to a wine cellar, it’s imperative that you choose a construction company that’s highly experienced in the process. Vintage Cellars has the experience necessary to advise customers about whether a specific space can be successfully converted, and what type of cooling system and materials will be needed in order to create a cellar that will protect the customer’s wine investment.

Vintage Cellars also goes to great lengths to control construction dust by tenting the area with a construction dust barrier, protecting the floors and pulling dust through a filtered exhaust fan. We do this to protect the health of the homeowner, children and pets. We also do this to protect the customer’s furniture, floors and surrounding area from layers of construction dust. Though there is no way to remove 100 percent of construction dust, a conscientious company like Vintage Cellars can come pretty close.

Do you have questions about transforming your closet into a wine cellar? Get in touch with an expert at Vintage Cellars here.

 

How do I know if my wine’s gone bad?

October 22nd, 2013 No comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re out to dinner at a restaurant and are served a bottle of wine you’ve never had before. The waiter arrives and pours you a taste. You take a sip. The flavor is…strange. Is the wine just new and unfamiliar, or is something wrong with it? Unsure of what to do, you tell the waiter it’s fine, then spend the rest of the dinner wondering if you did the right thing.

We’ve all tasted wine that’s gone unmistakably bad. But it isn’t always easy to tell. Here are our most frequently asked questions about wine faults, so that you never wonder again.

1. What is “corked” wine?

Corked wine is wine that has been contaminated with a chemical compound called TCA, commonly referred to as “cork taint.” TCA is formed when fungi (which often occur naturally in wine) come in contact with certain chemicals in wine sterilization products. Infected corks will taint the wine. You’ll know a wine is tainted if it has the smell and taste of damp, soggy, or even rotten cardboard. Cork taint also dampens the fruity taste of wine. Neither pieces of cork floating in the wine nor mold on the top of the cork means that the wine has been tainted.

2. My wine has crystals in it — what does that mean?

Sometimes, you’ll get a bottle of wine with what looks like sugar crystals in the bottom. They are called tartaric acid crystals or “tartrates.” Tartaric acid is naturally occurring in grapes. When wine becomes very cold, or old, it can crystallize. Tartrates are not harmful to the drinker or the wine. In fact, they can be a sign that the wine is high-quality and has not been over-treated while it was being made.

3. My wine is cloudy — is that bad?

Cloudy wine usually indicates that yeast or another kind of bacteria is growing in the wine. Fizziness in wine can signal the same thing. While cloudy or fizzy wine likely won’t hurt you, it probably won’t taste very good.

4. I know it’s bad if wine tastes like vinegar, but what does it mean?

Vinegar-tasting wine means that the wine has been infiltrated by a bacteria called Acetobacter. It usually happens when a bottle has been left open for too long, or can also be a fault of the wine-making process. The reaction of Acetobacter with oxygen creates vinegar, and is actually how vinegar is produced.

5. Can a wine be too old?

Aging wine isn’t always a good thing. Over time, wine undergoes oxidation (this process can happen faster than it should if the cork doesn’t fit correctly or the wine is stored improperly). Wines that have been spoiled by oxidation taste dull and flat, and often turn brownish in color.

6. My wine tastes like struck matches. What happened?

Nearly all wines are made using sulfur dioxide, which helps prevent oxidation. But too much sulfur dioxide causes unpleasant aromas in wine, which smell like struck matches, or sometimes, rotten eggs. Occasionally, the smell is accompanied by an unpleasant tingling sensation in the nose.

Wine Cellar FAQs

October 8th, 2013 No comments
Traditional Wine Cellar in Memphis, TN

Thinking about building a wine cellar, but find yourself bogged down by questions? Never fear. Below, we’ve compiled the questions we are asked most frequently about building wine cellars. Find the answers you’ve been searching for below. Have a question that’s not on this list? Contact us and we’ll answer it for you!

Q: Do I have to have  to store wine in a wine cellar?

A: If you’re a casual wine drinker who consumes bottles soon after you buy them, you probably don’t need a wine cellar. But if you’re a collector (or aspiring collector) or wine, you should protect your investment by storing it in the correct conditions. Wine stored in too-hot or too-cold conditions, at the wrong humidity, or in an environment in which temperature and humidity fluctuate, can mold, evaporate away, turn rancid, or undergo chemical changes that can make it taste unpleasant.

Q: Does a wine cellar require special construction?

A: Yes. Wine requires a unique environment different from that of your home. Wine cellars must maintain a temperature of between 55 and 78° Fahrenheit and humidity between 55 and 75 percent. This is far colder and more humid than your average house. A wine cellar has to be specially constructed to maintain and control this unique environment. The most important part of this construction is a vapor barrier, which keeps the high humidity in your wine cellar from migrating to the low humidity environment in the rest of the house. Vapor barriers are often overlooked by inexperienced wine cellar builders, leading to ruined wine and high repair costs for the owners later on.

Q: I don’t have underground space. Can I still have a wine cellar?

A: Absolutely. Long ago, people used to store wine underground because conditions were usually more optimal there than above ground. But with today’s technologies, we can create a wine cellar with perfect conditions in many different locations in a home. However, wine does need to be protected from light, heat and vibration, so picking a cool spot away from windows and excessive noise will save you on construction and energy costs.

Q: I don’t have a lot of extra room in my house. Can I use a closet?

A: You can! Small space should never limit your wine cellar aspirations. It is possible to convert a small space like a closet into a fully-functional and beautiful wine cellar. For proof, check out this 800-bottle cellar Vintage Cellars wine cellar constructed in a San Diego home.

Q: Do the wine racks have to be custom-built for my space? That sounds expensive.

A: No. While custom racks are certainly an option, there are many other kinds of racking systems available on the market today. A modular system like Vintner wine racks can give you the gorgeous custom feel without the high price tag. Vintner offers a variety of wine rack sizes and styles, such as columns, bins, and diamond racks, that can all be fitted together to perfectly suit your space.

Q: I love wine but I don’t have an eye for design. Can you help?

We’d be honored! Most of our clients know that they want a unique and beautiful space, but they don’t know exactly how to achieve that. We specialize in listening to what our clients want, then working with them to create a beautiful design that suits them and fits seamlessly into the rest of their home’s design. Contact us today to see what kind of wine cellar we can make for you!