Why an underground wine cellar makes sense

Cool Basements has created fantastic underground wine cellars in lots of London basements, but you don’t actually need to spend a huge amount on fancy kit.

Just providing your wines with a space that’s stable, temperature-controlled, and away from direct sunlight is enough to ensure that they’ll be good to drink for years to come. 

Here’s why a basement conversion makes the ideal wine storage solution:

1. It’s nice and cool

While we might enjoy nice, balmy temperatures, you can be sure your wine doesn’t. In fact, heat is a wine’s worst enemy and the one thing that is sure to turn a great grape into a sour grape. Temperatures higher than 21 age a wine more quickly than is desirable, and if things get much hotter, may end up cooking the wine, resulting in flat aromas and flavours. The ideal temperature range is between 7-18, with 12 being cited as close to perfect.

2. But not too cool!

Most of us have got wines racked up in the fridge door, but don’t fret – it’s fine if you’re going to drink them over the next month or so. The problem comes when wines are kept at cool temperatures for too long. The lack of moisture in modern fridges could lead corks to dry out which then could allow air to seep into the bottles and taint the wine. It’s also a bad idea to keep your wines in the garage where winter temperatures could dip below freezing – if the liquid turns to ice it could expand and push the cork out. Keeping your wines in the basement means they stay nice and cool all year round.

3. Consistency is what’s called for

With our fickle climate, it’s not uncommon to experience at least three seasons in one day. While we might not like it at least we can cope by always making sure we don’t leave the house without a brolly and raincoat! However, wines don’t cope so well and it is the fluctuation in temperatures which can cause a lot of damage. The expansion and contraction of liquid inside the bottles could lead to the cork being pushed out and air seeping in. A well-insulated basement wine cellar will remain at a constant temperature no matter what the weather above ground.

4. They’re away from the bright lights

Light, especially sunlight, can be a problem for long-term wine storage. UV rays from the sun can degrade wine and cause it to age prematurely, which is one of the reasons coloured glass is used to make wine bottles – it prevents the sunlight getting to the wine. While light from household bulbs shouldn’t harm the wine, many underground wine cellars can be fitted with incandescent bulbs, rather than fluorescent ones, which do emit very small amount of UV light.

5. It’s a no sweat solution

Ideally wines should be stored somewhere with a humidity level between 50-80 percent. Anything drier might dry out the corks and allow air to seep in, thus damaging the wine. On the other hand, extremely damp conditions can promote mould, which shouldn’t affect properly sealed bottles but could destroy a bottle’s label. A properly tanked, properly insulated basement will eliminate both these concerns.

Peter Little
The Cool Basements Company Ltd.