Most of us start off innocent enough, we have a few bottles of everyday drinking wine sitting in a 12 bottle wine rack in the dining room or on the kitchen counter.
If you are lucky enough to have a cold room in the basement you might have a small rack in there. So far in your wine collecting experience you have never had more than 12 bottles of wine in the house at any time, and at best these are just inexpensive everyday drinking wines.
Then BANG! Something happens to change all that. It might be a really great bottle of wine that you inherit from your Grandfather, or you were out to dinner and had this fabulous Vintage Port that left a strong impression on you. Or you went to a wine tasting party featuring mid-priced red Bordeaux that everyone agreed would improve with age and you fell in love with one or two specific wines that you wanted to buy. Or, or, or … .
Within 3 months of getting the collecting bug, you have grown from 12 bottles to 30 plus, and you now have 3 or more small wine racks and are keeping them in the coldest spot in the house, maybe even in the beer fridge in the basement.
Of course you used to keep the beer fridge ice cold, but you have set the temperature higher for the benefit of your red wines, and now you have to get used to drinking warmer beer. Soon the beer fridge is full of wine and you barely have room for a six pack of beer. One day while pulling a bottle of wine from the beer fridge something slips and a $50 bottle of wine falls out and breaks on the floor. Of course the wine seeps under the fridge and now you have a mess to clean, and a fridge full of wine to move in order to clean up the mess.
While you are cleaning and cursing, you come up with a brilliant idea: I need a wine cooler, something specifically designed to hold wine. Something large enough to take maybe 60 bottles, which is 30 more than I have in the beer fridge now, so that should be plenty, plus I get my beer fridge back for cold beer. You are proud of yourself, and you begin your search for a 60 bottle wine fridge.
You recoil in horror at the price for a new unit ($500 or more), and you find a used one on an internet site for only $100. This you can justify spending to your spouse because you are protecting your wine investment, something like buying insurance (more about wine insurance later).
You pick up the unit, get it home, plug it in and adjust the temperature, and it does not work. You kick it once or twice, rock it back and forth, check the plug, check the socket, turn the fridge upside down, kick it again, then you discover the on/off switch on the back of the unit. With a flick of the switch, you finally get it working, only to find that the unit is not holding a steady temperature. Upon further investigation you discover that the glass door on the unit does not seal properly, and you hope that this problem was not a result of you kicking the unit 20 minutes earlier. After realizing that the hinge on the glass door is bent, you come to the conclusion that some repairs are required. “No problem” you say, you are handy with tools, so you remove the glass door, then remove the hinge from the door, and bend it back into shape on your work bench. There you go, good as new, and you reassemble the unit by attaching the hinge and glass door. However, the glass door fails to close properly, the rubber seal between the glass door and the unit no longer seems to fit snugly, one side has a huge air gap.
After a 5 minute cursing break, you decide you need to calm down, so you uncork a bottle of wine and pour yourself a glass to relax, while you contemplate what to do next. Eureka, it is really quite simple, by straightening out the hinge you have changed the way the door hangs and have changed the contact points with the rest of the unit when the glass door closes. You decide you must reverse the rubber seal to get better contact, so you remove the rubber seal, reverse it, and reinstall it. The whole process takes another 30 minutes and two more glasses of wine, but even as the time marches on, you are at least more relaxed about it. Well, sadly the rubber seal still gaps badly on one side, so much so that the unit will not cool because the cool air just seeps right out where the door will not close tightly.
As you pour yourself the last glass of wine from your bottle you call the guy who sold you this lousy, broken wine fridge and in a slurred fit of rage you demand your “monkey” back. The guy laughs and tells you he does not have your “monkey”, and that you must have damaged the unit yourself because it worked fine at his house. It is then that you remember you have kicked the stupid thing at least 3 times, disassembled the door, banged out the hinge, and reversed the rubber seal, so you are not going to return it or get your “monkey” back. So you do the only smart thing left to do, you hang up the phone and open another bottle of wine. As you sip on your 5th glass of wine, you realize you will probably have to buy a new unit, and take the loss on this one. You go upstairs and your spouse asks how the new wine fridge is working, and all of a sudden you don’t feel like such a genius any more.
The next day you and your hangover go shopping for a new unit, and $500 later you get the new unit home and sneak the used one into the garbage without telling your spouse that you got taken buying used instead of new. The new unit works fine, but within 6 weeks you have it full of 60 bottles, with 10 more in a small rack sitting on top of the wine fridge. Two months later, you are entertaining friends at home and you head to the basement to get more wine from your wine fridge. Your buddy comes downstairs with you and sees the two extra wine racks full of bottles, and the small stack of extra bottles piling up in the corner, and promptly tells you that you need a larger wine fridge. You discuss it while pouring yourselves another glass of wine, and he tells you he has a unit that takes 120 bottles and he is very pleased with it. So you make a mental note to look into a larger unit.
The next day you start the search for a larger unit, 150 bottle capacity is going to cost you $2,000, but you only have about 90 bottles now, so you have the capacity to add up to 60 bottles more, and you should have no need for more than 150 bottles.
Besides, you can hang onto the smaller unit, and the two together will give you storage capacity of 210 bottles, plenty of room. And as an added bonus, you can use the 60 bottle fridge for your white wines, and the 150 bottle fridge for your red wines, and have the two units set at different temperatures. You love that idea, and you cannot help but be impressed with your logic and such a smart solution, you will even have a better setup than your buddy who gave you the idea in the first place. Perfect!
Oops, red light! Your spouse thinks you are crazy, and there is no way she is going to let you spend $2,000 on another wine cooler. No, you will have to buy her $5,000 worth of new kitchen appliances before she lets you spend $2,000 on a larger wine fridge. So, this is going to require more thought, a lot more thought, and you always seem to do your best thinking with, you guessed it, a glass of wine. So off you go to make a little more room in your wine fridge by opening a bottle.
As you near the end of the bottle by pouring the last glass, a thought begins to take shape in that clouded mind of yours. You need a wine cellar, and if you can take over the cedar closet in the basement, with some minor renovations you can convert that closet into a cellar that has about a 350 bottle capacity. Marvelous you think, in fact this is such a good idea you decide to open another bottle to celebrate and make plans. Half way through your second bottle of wine you have convinced yourself you can do the renovations yourself, and materials will not cost you more than $400. The only obstacle is convincing your wife to let you have the cedar closet to convert into a wine cellar. Since you are an expert negotiator you have devised yet another devious plan of attack. By taking over the cedar closet, you have figured that you will be saving $1,600 ($2,000 less $400), and you will be getting 350 bottles storage capacity instead of 210, an increase of 66.6% more than you were going to get with the added fridge, and you will save on electricity (because your cellar will be naturally cooled without the need for a refrigeration unit).
The next day you and your hangover discuss your proposal with your spouse. She hates the idea of course, but being the expert negotiator that you are, you convince her to consider the proposal by agreeing to throw in a few extra concessions. In exchange for the cedar closet, you agree to make her a new cedar closet in another section of the basement and add more storage shelving by cutting down on your workshop space. Ouch, much bigger job than you expected, you have to build her concessions first, and the actual renovation cost is higher, but now you will have the ultimate wine storage solution, your own wine cellar.
And this is how one goes about deciding they need their first wine cellar.
Next week, step two, building that first cellar. Cheers!