Do you have tall strips of them surrounding the oven?
The disadvantage of these kitchen wine slots is that they are in the wrong place. If you buy wine on a weekly basis and just stack a bottle or two in these slots before drinking it in the next week or so, then they are fine.
But if you have bought a dozen bottles because lockdown makes that easier or even a few cases of wine that need to mature gently for a year or so, then your kitchen is just too warm.
Ideally, wine needs to be kept at a steady cellar temperature of around 12C. Variations in temperature may mean that the cork moves imperceptibly in and out as the temperature changes. This is no good for the wine. And even if your wine is screw capped, a warm kitchen will accelerate aging, so you need to find a cool place to keep it.
I recently visited my neighbour to admire her new kitchen and instead of those small wine racks, she had small wine fridges – four in all. Just 15cm wide, each one held seven bottles and they were tucked under the worktop, in small runs and corners where nothing else would fit.
“Why lots of little ones?” I asked. “Well they were a bit of an afterthought,” she said. “But it means I can keep my whites, champagne, rosés and reds all at different temperatures and within arm’s reach.”
There are better alternatives, though. You could buy a larger wine fridge and keep all your wine together. Some even have dual temperature zones so you can keep your reds and whites at the ideal temperature. Most kitchen companies have a range of wine fridges at prices that range from £299 to £3,000.
Those of us who live in houses without cellars might consider one of the most stylish options, which is essentially digging a hole in your kitchen floor and equipping it with a spiral staircase and niches that hold your wine.
With floor level doors, usually made of glass so you can see your wine maturing gently, you can disappear into your cellar and retrieve tonight’s special bottle for dinner. Spiral cellars (www.spiralcellars.co.uk) have been digging cellars in kitchens for around 40 years so they have plenty of experience.
Prices range from £23,000 for storage of around 1100 bottles, but you can dig deeper and wider to store more of your wine.
Ian Watkinson of Wine Cellars of Yorkshire (www.winecellarsofyorkshire.co.uk) has seen a definite increase in people installing wine cellars in their homes.
“Enquiries have doubled during lockdown as people want to improve their homes and have a place to store their wine.”
With an established joinery business based in Thirsk, Ian was asked by an existing customer to create a wine storage solution for him. “That really got us started and now we have customers all across Yorkshire, but also in London, Winchester and Leicester.”
With a keen eye on detail and design, Ian’s company will create a wine storage solution to suit your home. This can range from some wine racks either side of a chimney breast in the dining room, to full wine rooms with careful joinery and lighting.
One aspect that Ian has taken on board is that wine labels are important, so instead of the usual metal struts that are used in regular wine racks, your bottles are stored on wedges of oak or walnut. “That way the labels are not damaged as you pull the bottle in and out of the rack.”
With space at a premium in most houses, Ian has installed wine rooms and wine racks in unexpected places. Under the stairs is quite a popular option, where the under-stairs area is glazed in, lighting and cooling installed and bespoke wine racks built to house the wine.
Some of Ian’s largest projects have been to install complete wine rooms, with wine racks, case storage, and a table in the middle of the room for tastings. Lighting and cooling was also installed which protects and shows off the whole installation.
These are not inexpensive projects and occasionally customers have been surprised at the cost of creating their own wine storage space. With individual wine racks starting at £5,000, and large projects reaching £50,000 you will need some serious wines to show off in your investment.
“We are also developing an idea to dig out underground cellars, with space for a proper staircase, a handrail and fully fitted for proper wine storage. This is in addition to adapting existing cellars to make them perfect for wine.”
All this sounds like a great deal of investment for storing what may amount to just a few cases of wine. But once you have that facility you will probably find that you will start to delve deeper into the world of wine, and maybe invest in wine to drink or sell on.
The increase in work has meant that Wine Cellars of Yorkshire are busier than they have ever been. “We will be looking for another apprentice to join us soon,” said Ian.
And despite all the wood used in construction of these cellars, Ian is keen to balance his work with the environment.
“For every job we do, we plant a tree, usually oak or cherry, here in Yorkshire. We have quite a plantation started, just half a mile from our workshop.”