Wine stor­age: what does the fu­ture hold? James But­ton

No cob­webbed old brick cel­lar to fill with dusty bot­tles and boxes? Tech­nol­ogy is putting a dif­fer­ent spin on wine stor­age: not so much hid­ing it away as cen­tre­piece of your home decor, says James But­ton

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Wine drinkers have long re­lied on the steady sub­ter­ranean tem­per­a­ture and ideal hu­mid­ity of cel­lars to store their wine. But mod­ern tech­nol­ogy has brought the joy of stor­ing fine wine at home to those with­out a tra­di­tional un­der­ground space. Whether you’d pre­fer to put your wines on dis­play be­hind a wall of glass, build a spi­ral cel­lar be­neath your kitchen, or sim­ply store prized wines in a tem­per­a­ture- and hu­mid­ity-con­trolled wine fridge, there are plenty of op­tions when it comes to look­ing af­ter your favourite bot­tles.

The wine fridge or wine cab­i­net is the en­try-point into pro­fes­sional-level wine stor­age. These can be small and dis­creet enough to tuck un­der a kitchen coun­ter­top, but the largest mod­els can store more than 200 bot­tles and can form a fo­cal point for the room – much like the multi-tiered wine fridges on dis­play in many fine-din­ing venues.

Some wine fridges of­fer multi-zone tem­per­a­ture con­trol as well as hu­mid­ity con­trol, al­low­ing wines to be chilled ready to serve while other wines are ma­tur­ing at

‘cel­lar’ tem­per­a­ture. These have been around for decades, but nowa­days you can buy ex­am­ples with var­i­ous LED colour set­tings, char­coal fil­ters to pre­vent odours en­ter­ing the fridge and af­fect­ing the wine, hy­grom­e­ters to mea­sure hu­mid­ity, dig­i­tal tem­per­a­ture con­trol to within 0.1°C and anti-UV glass to pre­vent the wine from spoil­ing due to ex­po­sure to harm­ful ul­tra­vi­o­let rays.

The LG Sig­na­ture Wine Cel­lar (www.lg.com) takes things a step fur­ther with its auto-open door – con­trol­lable by voice com­mand or by trig­ger­ing a sen­sor with your foot – while its con­nected smart­phone app can ad­just tem­per­a­ture set­tings on the fly.

‘2020 has seen a con­sumer-led shift to­wards a more tai­lored ser­vice’ Fiona Love, Spi­ral Cel­lars

Best use of space

An­other trend is down­siz­ing, cou­pled with the ris­ing gen­eral cost of hous­ing, which have re­sulted in the ris­ing pop­u­lar­ity of stor­age built into spare cup­boards, un­der stairs and in other un­der-utilised spa­ces. Mark Well­man, on­line mar­ket­ing man­ager for Wineware (www. wineware.co.uk), ex­plains that us­ing CAD (com­puter aided de­sign) soft­ware is ‘key for our de­sign team’ where space is at a pre­mium, al­low­ing them to en­sure that func­tion­al­ity is max­imised, and en­abling the client to see their cel­lar in 3D be­fore work has com­menced. Sim­i­larly, Sor­rells (www.sor­rells-win­er­acks.co.uk) uses vir­tual-re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy to al­low clients to ‘step into the cel­lar’ be­fore it’s built, with the abil­ity to open doors and even pick items up.

In the best light

An­drew Speer, founder and MD of Cel­lar Mai­son, cites UV fil­ters and switch­able glass (chang­ing from clear to opaque at the press of a but­ton) as fea­tures per­fect for a mod­ern wine stor­age so­lu­tion, al­low­ing the wines to be on dis­play yet pro­tect­ing them from harm­ful UV light. The lat­ter can also pro­vide own­ers with a daz­zling ‘re­veal’ ef­fect that is sure to im­press at din­ner par­ties!

LED light­ing is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar, ac­cord­ing to Adam Moore of Win­er­acks (www.win­er­acks.co.uk). As a wine­friendly light­ing so­lu­tion, LED of­fers sev­eral

ad­van­tages over tra­di­tional bulbs: it is ef­fi­cient, mean­ing that LED bulbs con­sume far less power and emit next to no heat, which is vi­tal when plac­ing them close to valu­able wine bot­tles; LEDs have a life­span of up to 10 times that of a typ­i­cal en­ergy-sav­ing bulb; and they can be set via app or touch­screen to any one of near-in­fi­nite colour vari­a­tions, per­fect for mood light­ing or spot­light­ing cer­tain wines.

Se­bas­tian Riley-Smith, founder and MD of Smith & Tay­lor (www.smithand­tay­lor.com), ex­plains that his com­pany uses tough­ened glass to cre­ate a ‘bird’s eye view’ of a tra­di­tional un­der­ground cel­lar, al­low­ing own­ers to walk over and peer down at their col­lec­tion. Light­ing both be­low and above ground can be linked and con­trolled via an app for at­mo­spheric am­bi­ent light­ing ef­fects.

Safe and sound

So the de­sign and light­ing has been de­cided, but what about pro­tect­ing your valu­able bot­tles? Cel­lar Mai­son’s Speer as­serts that ‘key­pad or bio­met­ric wine room door-en­try sys­tems are be­com­ing more com­mon’. Mod­ern elec­tronic key­pads can sup­port mul­ti­ple codes for var­i­ous mem­bers of the fam­ily or for prop­erty/cel­lar man­agers, and can push no­ti­fi­ca­tions to an app ev­ery time the door is un­locked. Finger­print and retina scan­ners, based on sim­i­lar

‘Wine stor­age for the home has evolved into an in­ter­gral part of the en­ter­tain­ment space’

tech­nol­ogy to that used in smart­phones, pro­vide com­pletely per­son­alised se­cu­rity that is very dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble, to crack.

Chubb, the largest pub­licly traded prop­erty in­sur­ance com­pany in the world, is run­ning a pi­lot scheme which it hopes to roll out to all of its wine cel­lar clients early next year, us­ing IoT (In­ter­net of Things) sen­sors and a con­nected app. This tech­nol­ogy pro­vides 24/7 mon­i­tor­ing of tem­per­a­ture, hu­mid­ity and vi­bra­tion and can alert the owner or prop­erty man­ager to fluc­tu­a­tions out­side pre­set ranges. A text is trig­gered when mi­nor, sus­tained fluc­tu­a­tions are de­tected, while more no­tice­able sus­tained fluc­tu­a­tions will trig­ger a phone call.

As well as giv­ing its clients peace of mind in safe­guard­ing their wines, Chubb’s Sean Ring­stead points out that early warn­ing also saves his com­pany time and money pro­cess­ing claims that can be avoided. Laura Doyle, Chubb’s VP art & jew­ellery and valu­able col­lec­tions man­ager, adds that an­other ben­e­fit of this tech­nol­ogy is that it pro­vides a doc­u­mented his­tory of cel­lar con­di­tions that could prove very use­ful for own­ers con­sid­er­ing sell­ing part of their col­lec­tion.

Do it your­self?

Fiona Love, head of mar­ket­ing at Spi­ral Cel­lars (www.spi­ral­cel­lars.co.uk), notes that 2020 has seen ‘a sig­nif­i­cant con­sumer-led shift to­wards a more tai­lored ser­vice, which has been driven by the home im­prove­ment mar­ket dur­ing lock­down’. As a re­sult, Spi­ral Cel­lars has in­tro­duced a ‘de­sign only’ ser­vice, as well as a ‘self-build’ kit, both re­tail­ing for less than the cost of a com­plete pro­fes­sional in­stal­la­tion.

Could pro­fes­sion­ally de­signed, self-built cel­lars be the fu­ture of home wine stor­age?

Wine stor­age for the home has evolved into an in­te­gral part of the en­ter­tain­ment space, com­bin­ing func­tion­al­ity with art – and it’s all thanks to mod­ern tech­nol­ogy. We can only imag­ine what the next few decades will bring for wine lovers.

Cel­lar Mai­son’s wine wall can of­fer re­mote mon­i­tor­ing

Above from left: Smith & Tay­lor wine in­ven­tory sys­tem; LG Sig­na­ture’s multi-tem­per­a­ture con­trol stor­age

Un­der­stairs wine stor­age sys­tem in­stalled by Sor­rells (see p66)

Sor­rells A Wineware wine room that com­bines solid oak racks, shelves and cubes

LG Sig­na­ture

Win­er­acks

Smith & Tay­lor James But­ton is a Decanter re­gional editor

Spi­ral Cel­lars

Chubb

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