If you live in an earthquake-free zone, you can store your wine bottles pretty much anywhere and not give them a second thought.
They should be kept away from direct sunlight, of course, and at a relatively cool temperature. But that’s about it; you probably don’t need to worry about their “safety.”
However, if you live in California or anywhere else earthquakes are a possibility, then it’s advisable to give your “storage system” some thought.
As last summer’s series of quakes in Ridgecrest, Calif., reminded us, some of the worst damage in the homes of wine lovers can occur in storage rooms where the floors are made of hard materials — wood or, worse, cement.
Which makes sense: When you drop a glass bottle on a hard surface with no “give,” that bottle is likely to shatter.
Most California winery owners understand this, and many have invested in expensive “shelving” systems for both their bottles and barrels — systems that are designed to withstand shaking.
Personal wine collections, of course, are much smaller than winery inventories, but many of the bottles we keep at home are precious for one reason or another. Precious or not, we eventually want to be able to drink and enjoy each and every one of those bottles, so we need to keep all of them safe.
Here are three tips for doing just that:
- Invest in wine racks.
Even low-tech, assemble-yourself wooden racks are better than no racks at all, because they help keep bottles in place.
- Don’t build racks too high.
My home rack is four rows high — which means if a bottle is shaken loose by an earthquake, it doesn’t have far to fall. The farther a bottle falls, the greater the velocity when it hits the floor, and the more likely it is to break.
- Provide a soft landing.
I’ve never understood why so many wine collectors opt for wooden floors in their home “cellars.” It’s most likely a design decision, because wooden floors are attractive and fairly easy to maintain. But they provide no “cushion” for a falling wine bottle. If bottle safety is a concern, it’s a good idea to install nice, thick carpeting in the wine storage room.
We native Californians have grown up with earthquakes and tend to take them for granted — until a big one hits, like the ones that shook up Ridgecrest last summer. Those quakes provided a reminder that the more we invest in wine, the more we should do to protect it.