If you want to really enjoy your wine, you might want to consider building a cellar for your collection. Most people who buy wine just stick their bottles on a shelf, consuming them before aging or proper wine storage becomes an issue. However, for the true connosieur or collector, this is almost akin to sacrilege. The quality of many bottles of wine, even the less expensive ones, can be enhanced by aging in a proper environment. For the higher quality wines, proper storage can help maintain the qualities for which a premium price was paid. A wine lover who is asking themselves how to build a wine cellar can take heart in knowing they have many choices, most of which are actually not as difficult as the idea may sound.
A wine cellar can be as simple as a dry, dark corner of a basement that contains an are for boxes of wine to be stored or for a rack to be mounted, a commercially available electric wine cabinet, up to an environmentally controlled room dedicated exclusively to wine storage.
For the average wine collector, a wine cellar should be located in a portion of the home where there is good ventilation with minimal sunlight, humidity in the 50-70% range and consistent temperatures of about 55-58 degrees. Some locations will maintain this temperature naturally while others will require a cooling unit. As the name implies, a cellar or basement is usually a good choice if the home is equipped with one. If not, then a room can be prepared in the main of the house, but extra attention needs to be paid to the insulation and cooling. A humidity and temperature control system is a consideration, but the need for these as well as the associated expense are often debated. Regardless, if the unit chosen is not self contained and stand alone, a professional should be consulted for choosing and installation.
The first steps to take in the construction of a wine cellar are to check local rules and ordinances to determine if construction permits are required and, if so, to complete the process. If the owner is required to provide plans, the amount of wine to be stored needs to be determined and then calculations made as to the square footage required to meet that goal.
After the permits are acquired and the calculations made, the framing of the area can begin, if no framing is already in place. This is done using 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 construction with ceiling joices. A vapor barrier, usually 6 mm. plastic sheeting, needs to be installed on the warm side of the framing and ceiling materials to provide humidity control for the wine. Next is the insulation to keep the temperature consistent. There are three types of insulation are normally used to insulate the wine cellar. The choice between rigid foam insulation, fiberglass insulation, or blown in insulation is a personal one, with the rigid foam board being the easiest to install and the others providing a higher degree of insulation. The degree of insulation needed will vary on the location, but as a general rule R-13 is sufficient for inside walls and R-19 for outside walls. However, when in doubt, slightly more insulation is the wiser choice.
After the insulation is installed the interior coating of the walls and ceiling must be mounted. Sheetrock, tongue and groove wood paneling, and green board are all suitable and each have their advantages. Green board is moisture resistant, sheetrock is less expensive, and most people feel that real wood paneling can provide a better ambience. If wood paneling is chosen a red wood or cedar is rot-resistant, although some don't care for the smell of cedar or like the idea of it around their wine collection.
Finally, the flooring should be installed. Any choice other than carpet (which can rot in the climate controlled room) is suitable, with marble, slate, tile or vinyl being most common. The final step in completing the wine cellar is choosing and installing a door. The door needs to be one suitable for exterior use and contain weather stripping on all four sides. It needs to be installed with a threshold or sweep to help complete the room's ability to be climate controlled.