Is there really a need to store wine? Well, that depends on the wine.
The old adage, “Wine improves with age,” is applicable to fine wines, but which wines? And can you really wait? This is the conundrum. Most of the wines you purchase will be consumed within days or weeks, so there is no need to consider elaborate storage systems; a simple wine rack would do. If, on the other hand, you have precious bottles that you believe will improve over time, or your monthly purchases exceed your consumption, then proper storage seems logical.
Robust red wines such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot or pinot noir, and some whites, will benefit greatly from aging. They become more complex, softer and far more enjoyable over time. To achieve that, proper storage is necessary. The simplest solution is a wine refrigerator, available from most appliance stores, like Jessup's. Costing from several hundred to several thousand dollars, they will keep temperature and humidity within a narrow range. Wine prefers a constant environment, with a temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity at 60 percent.
Wine also prefers darkness and no vibrations. Without the advantage of cellars, serious Florida wine aficionados have two options, only worthwhile if the collection is several hundred bottles or more. First is a wine room in the home, which is best created during construction, due to the high cost of making changes to an existing room, which include the installation of a generator, in case you lose power. A number of companies, such as Wine Enthusiast, can supply the wine racks for you. My experience is that redwood racks are best. Make sure they are sturdy, because wine can be heavy, and one falling bottle can take down many more. There may be local suppliers, but the only one I found had a disconnected phone number.
While a wine room or personal cave allows you to age wines appropriately, and have them immediately available, the advantages of a dedicated wine storage facility should also be considered. As the value of your wine investment grows, unpredictable forces, such as extreme weather and power outages, make this option more appealing. In addition to the personal supervision of your wines in a controlled environment, such facilities allow for tastings and seminars with other high-level wine collectors.
Two local companies, Vin Cella and Cellar Fifty-Five offer such amenities. Vin Cella is more established, having been founded in 2004 by the cordial Jeff Rubin, and could be considered a wine country club. An exceptional facility, space is unavailable at this time, but there is a waiting list. Cellar Fifty-Five, meanwhile, began in 2018, when Brett Laurvick built a more modern resource. He has availability. Storage lockers vary in size and can accommodate growing collections.
When your collection reaches the stage where you're considering storage, it become like fine art—rare and valuable. Many consider these wines investments, but the true return is the enjoyment they provide.
Bob McGinn has spent his entire career in the wine industry—forming wine clubs, working in wine sales marketing and engaging in all facets of the winemaking process, including vine management, fermentation and yeast analysis. He has developed wine programs for companies such as Marriott, Sheraton and Smith & Wollensky, and consults with local restaurants. You can read more of McGinn's work at gulfcoastwinejournal.com.