There are a few guidelines to follow for storing wine properly, but sometimes it can be tricky when we just don’t have as much space. Here are a few hacks that can create big solutions for small problems. Nothing should stop you from building the wine collection of your dreams.
1. Store Short-Term Bottles Seperately from Long-Term Bottles
The ideal storage conditions for any bottle of wine is a cool and dark place, but oftentimes in small apartments, there aren’t enough spaces like this for all of our precious bottles.
Like so many students living in Paris, I experienced living in a shoebox-sized studio myself. I’m talking tiny. Believe it or not, the fact that there were so many incredible French wines easily available for purchase made it even more difficult!
I found it very useful to save spaces such as closets, cabinets that were not near the stove, the mini-fridge (set to 55° F), and even space underneath the bed for the bottles that I wanted to store long term. These are bottles I had a plan for and I was willing to invest the time in.
The bottles that I was planning on drinking in the near future were stored separately, usually on wine racks that were set on shelves or tables. These were wines I was going to drink over the next few days to weeks.
Prioritizing is key. This is a far better option than trying to cram all of your wine into the same space.
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2. Turn Wine Into Artwork to Consolidate Space
Is your space just too jam-packed with other stuff to give way for some wine bottles? Too bad we can’t move items onto the walls…or can we? A smart (not to mention tasteful) way to store bottles are on racks that are specially made to be mounted right on the wall! These racks are great for closets, or walls that do not have as much exposure to direct sunlight.
They are a beautiful way to display your wine collection as well, while saving floor space. Wall mounted wine racks vary in price, you can find them anywhere between $20-120. This is a great wall-mounted wine rack that has earned a ton of outstanding feedback on Amazon.
3. Invest in a Good Wine Rack
Similar to shoe racks, wine racks are a fantastic way to save space, all while taking care of your bottles. They are easily squeezed into corners, under countertops, or even in closets and cupboards.
Once wine is bottled and sealed with a cork, the oxygen will eventually seep through the pores of the cork. Laying down the bottles will not prevent this from happening entirely, but will slow down this process greatly. Also, when liquid is touching the cork, it will not dry out.
A dried out cork may crack and warp allowing more air inside to affect the wine. Bottles that are stored laying down will also make it easier to decant the wine, leaving all of the unwanted sediment in the bottle.
When opening, just be sure to keep the wine laying down at a minimum of a 45° angle, or this will defeat the entire purpose of storing sideways. A great way to open bottles sideways without spilling wine all over the place is by using a wine decanting basket. I really like this metal wine rack capable of storing 12 bottles in a very small area. It is available for a great price on Amazon.
4. A Mini Wine Refrigerator is a Great Option
A lot of people think of wine fridges as big, bulky items that are a luxury to people with more space in their homes. Not true! There are tons of options when it comes to smaller wine fridges. Certain wine fridges that hold up to 6-12 bottles can even be stored right on your countertop!
One major perk of smaller wine fridges is how efficient they are, compared to the average-sized unit. Also, many fridges have dual temperature zones, allowing red and white wines to be stored together. This is a sure way to give your wines the proper temperature that they need.
Wine refrigerators are one of the best ways to store wine because they are climate-controlled and do not produce wine-damaging vibrations that a standard kitchen fridge will. Furthermore, a wine fridge will achieve great storage temps in the range of 45-65° F whereas a kitchen fridge will be way too cold. If you are limited on space, a wine fridge is a great option.
I recommend checking out this 12 bottle wine refrigerator from NutriChef. It is compressor-cooled which affords a more even and reliable cooling for your bottles than a thermoelectric model will. Check out the current pricing on Amazon to see if this is a good fit for you.
If you want to know how much you can expect to pay for a good wine refrigerator, check out this list of 55 models I priced out myself based on bottle capacity, cooling type, and design.
5. Get Creative With Your Furniture
When we take a look at wine bottles, they aren’t very big (unless you’re looking at a Jeroboam). If you just don’t have the space for a little wine fridge, or for wine racks, it’s time to think of darker, cooler spaces in your home that aren’t disturbed too much.
Many times, furniture has legs to give some space between the floor and the piece itself. Try checking under your sofa, bed, dresser, or television stand. If there is enough space to slide some wine bottles underneath, great! You can use books on either end of the bottles to keep them from rolling around.
Don’t worry too much about the wines collecting dust. The first job I ever had as a sommelier in Paris, I was taught not to wipe the dust off of the bottles before serving, as this added a vintage charm to the wine that has been sleeping in the cellar for so many years. Even if your “cellar” is underneath your bed, it still counts! Dust won’t make the wine any better, but it can be a cool accent to your bottle’s mystique.
Another great place to store wine bottles are drawers. Sparing the bottom drawer of your dresser can be a quick and easy solution for keeping your wines out of the light, and out of direct heat. A few garments might be a good idea to keep between the bottles to prevent them from clinking together or rolling. TV stands, nightstands, or hutches often have drawers as well, just be sure to keep an open mind!
6. Store Wine in Bottom Drawers Close to Ground
When using cabinets or drawers to store wine, be sure to use the lower spaces. The reason for this is because heat rises. While some lofts are good for not having much light, this is one of the worst places to store wine. We certainly don’t want the wines trapped up there with all of that heat!
Not to mention, if there is any kind of earthquake (Californians totally relate), then at least your wines won’t come crashing down. It’s always good to be prepared!
One more reason why you want to keep your wine bottles stored closer to the bottom is that is the most stable part of the furniture piece. The further off the bottom you get, the more the bottles are vulnerable to rock, sway, and vibrations. Your dresser will be most stable and safe for wine storage in the bottom drawers.
7. Store Wine in Multi-Purpose Furniture
One of the most useful tips I have ever used while living in small quarters was purchasing pieces of furniture or items that have more than one use. Instead of a coffee table, why not a chest, or an ottoman that opens? These items create immediate extra storage, and they are not opened constantly like a closet would be.
The less vibration that wines have, the better. If wines are constantly moved or have light shed on them, this can cause them to spoil, just as well as incorrect temperature. In many chests or opening ottomans, you can easily store 10+ bottles safely. Just be sure not to bang into these chests often as the vibrations could stir up the sediment you want settled on bottom. This means to stop stubbing your toes in the middle of the night.
Best Way To Store Wines In Small Apartments
Starting with the basics, wines should always be stored laying down, in a dark, cool place with a constant temperature of about 55° F. Humidity levels should be between 50-70%.
The only place to really get these exact conditions in a small apartment is in a small wine fridge. Small wine fridges are definitely worth considering, especially if you fancy the more exclusive gems that are worth waiting 5 or more years to open.
It also depends on how many bottles we’re talking about. Looking back at the first hack, separating long-term bottles and short-term bottles is always a good idea. If you have 6 bottles of your favorite house wine that is consumed within the month, it won’t hurt to store them in a wine rack or refrigerator. On the other hand, a 1990 red Bordeaux should probably be kept in a wine fridge or dark closet for a more special event later on.
Naturally, wines with corks are more susceptible to spoilage than wines with screw caps. This is because the screw cap seals the wine completely, not allowing any oxygen in. Wines with screw caps that are not going to be aged for awhile are completely fine being stored upright.
Any cabinets or closets that are not near the stove or any direct heat are a great place to store these types of vinos. Screw cap wines that age beautifully over time should be kept lying down, preferably in a small wine fridge or closet.
Taking all of the above into consideration, be sure to understand the climate that you’re living in. If you reside in an extremely humid climate, keeping wines in the closet might not be the best option. Corks tend to be sensitive to mold and mildew. Closets don’t get as much ventilation as open rooms, causing more spores to settle. Wine racks or mounted wine wall racks would be a better option if this is the case.
Very dry climates are tricky to figure out, too. If you live in an area that has 20-30% humidity most of the time, it’s definitely best to keep your wines lying down, in a closet or dark space. One way to tell if your cork has dried out is that it will be very crumbly when opening, like dry bread crumbs. The wine will most likely be oxidized as well, but there’s always hope!.
Wine fridges are the safest way to go when it comes to extremities of any kind. Although not the cheapest option, consider your annual wine budget. If the wine fridge costs less than 50% of your wine purchases, I would say that’s a great investment. After all, good wines are a good time.
Whether you have a spare closet, or just a few nooks and crannies around your apartment for storing your wines, always be sure to choose the coolest space with the least amount of light. There are far more things we shouldn’t do with our wines than things we should do. One thing is certain, you should always appreciate it. Santé!