October 2, 2012

Coming to grips with the grape

Proper wine storage is important no matter what size home you live in


The apartment-sized 28-bottle Sobra-series fridge.

Larger Urbania fridge. Both models by Cavavin on the Wine Cellar Depot’s website: www.winecellardepot.com.

Now that British Columbia is producing world-class wines, many consumers ask how long the wines can be aged. When you look up at all of those condominium towers , you wonder about storage for wine. Hopefully, it is not in the parking garage next to the snow tires, nor – as one sees far too often – in a kitchen rack above the stove. The ideal wine storage space is cool, dark and clean. Wine is alive; it can pick up odours from prolonged exposure to those snow tires. It will fall apart when exposed to overly warm temperatures, as many have discovered to their chagrin when leaving wine in the trunk of their cars during a scorching Okanagan wine tour.

The storage solution in a cramped condo often is a dark corner in a clothes closet. If there is a little more space, consider buying a small wine fridge. A quick Internet search led to four Vancouver area companies that deal in wine storage equipment and advice: Blue Grouse Wine Cellars in North Vancouver; Wine Cellar Depot in Richmond; Vin De Garde Modern Wine Cellars in Vancouver; and Vancouver Wine Vaults, also in Vancouver. All sell storage equipment and design cellars. Typical of the apartment-sized temperature-controlled storage units is the Urbania series from Wine Cellar Depot. The 46-bottle units start at $389 while the 160-bottle units are about $2,500. Some are small enough to slide under a counter. Some are elegantly finished in mahogany and blend in with the rest of the furniture.

Why not just use the beer fridge, assuming you still have room for one in the apartment? Refrigerators tend to have more vibration than wine cabinets and vibration accelerates the aging of wine. That is nothing to worry about if the beer fridge is where you keep the rosé wines during the summer. The beer fridge is no place to store fine white Burgundy for three years.

How much storage you need depends on how much wine you drink. If you are a collector, however, you will certainly need more space than there is in the average condo. Collectors buy wines by the case and age them to perfection. The current vintage of great Bordeaux reds, which was released in late September by the Liquor Distribution Branch, is 2009. You can drink those wines now, but they will be far better in 2019 – and they will be far more expensive to buy at that time.

Collectors with a small home or apartment are likely to use commercial storage like Vancouver Wine Vaults in Yaletown. The basic cost of the temperature-controlled storage there is $3.50 a month for each case, including insurance. This company has been in business for more than a decade, offering a full suite of services, including delivery of wines if clients don’t have time to retrieve them. Tight living quarters no longer need stop you from cellaring your favourite wines.

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