How to Choose a Wine Rack to Fit Your Style and Budget

Cultivating an appreciation of wine is a growing trend in the US. Shops
specializing in wine are appearing throughout the country, not just in the
traditional vineyard regions of California, Oregon, and Virginia. People
who may not have grown up around wine are now drawn not only to sampling but
also to collecting it. Tasting parties and special wine pairing events are
a common theme in restaurants and in the home. With this comes an increase
in interest in home storage. While proper storage can help wines become
even more exquisite, improper storage can lead to ruined wine.

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A freestanding, temperature controlled wine rack is ideal, but much more
expensive than a simple wooden or metal wine rack. However, it is not
necessary to spend several thousand dollars to enjoy wine in your home. If
you can find a dark, cool, slightly humid location in your house, you will be
able to then select a simple rack that will keep your wine for years to
come. The ideal location will be 50-60 degrees, with constant 60-70
percent humidity.

Wine Rack Kits

One way to cut down on cost is to build your own wine rack. For
first-time enthusiasts, it is probably best to stick to a wine rack kit.
There are many considerations when designing a wine rack, and starting from a
kit will keep the wine in the rack where it should be – the last thing you want
is the whole thing to come crashing to the floor due to a miscalculation.

There are many commercially available wooden racks that offer snap-together
assembly, requiring nothing more than a hammer. These inexpensive kits are
usually made of redwood or pine, and can be bought for under $35.

The most important thing to keep in mind when building your own wine rack is
to consider the strength of the rack. A bottle of wine weighs
approximately 3 pounds, so the weight adds up quickly. Make sure not only
the rack but the floor itself can handle the weight, keeping in mind the weight
of the rack.

If the kit is wooden, make sure the wood has been dried properly (no more
than 14% moisture), and that the cross sections are no less than 3/8″ (1/2″ is

Also, make sure the wine is stored horizontally so that the wine stays in
contact with the cork. A dry cork signifies that the wine has been

Wine Rack Capacity

How much wine do you need?

While having 1500 bottles of wine on hand sounds exciting, most people have
neither the space nor the wallet to support such a venture. If you would
like to have something for everyday, a 15-30 capacity rack should meet your
needs. That way, you can have 2 bottles of sparkling wine, 3 bottles of
red (merlot or cabernet), 3 bottles of white (chardonnay, pinot grigio, or white
zinfandel), one bottle each of red and white cooking wine, and still have room
for a few special bottles that you plan to let age for years. Also keep a
nice red ready for company, and a reisling or shiraz for a spicy meal.
Have one bottle of white wine on hand in the refrigerator (it will only last in
there for a week), and you’ll be ready for any gathering. A 30-bottle
capacity rack is enough for a wine-tasting, an extended gathering, or for
someone who likes to try a different wine every day.

Also, keep in mind that most wine rack manufacturers list the total bottle
capacity. This may be different from racked wine capacity, as total
capacity may have bottles stacked directly on top of each other. While
this will not damage the wine, it is not as aesthetically pleasing and may be
inconvenient when getting the wine out of the rack.

Styles of Wine Racks: Location is Key

Wine racks come in many styles. Racks can be freestanding cabinets,
counter top, or wall mounted.

When choosing a style, keep the following in mind:


  • How much space do you actually have?
  • Do you want the wine rack to be visible, or would you rather have a large, hidden wine rack that does not necessarily match your home’s decor?
  • Where can you put the wine rack?

The most important part of your choice is the location. If you choose a
rack that is not freestanding, make sure it is protected from vibrations.
It is not a good idea to put the wine rack next to the sink where the disposal
will rattle it. Never place the rack on the top of the refrigerator, as it
gets very warm. Also, keep the rack away from a window, as the temperature
may vary too much, and UV light will damage the wine.

If you can not find a wine rack to fit in that perfect location and you are
not confident of making your own, consider having a custom wine rack created
just for you. While this option is more expensive than an off-the-rack
version, it is still much less than the freestanding units, and can keep your
wine for years to come.

Wine Rack Material

Wine racks come in a variety of materials, from wood to metal to glass.
Whether you choose one made of mahogany or steel depends on a variety of
factors, include cost, weight, and appearance.

Wooden Wine Racks

The most common type of wine rack is the wooden wine rack. It is
generally easier to assemble and relatively light. Common woods are pine,
cedar, spruce, oak, and redwood. Another less common wood is
mahogany. Mahogany is a high quality wood and is used in both moderate and
expensive racks.

Metal Wine Racks

Metal wine racks are becoming increasingly popular, especially those made of
steel. They are very B and last longer than wooden racks with less
care. They can be painted to match any home. They can also be formed
into a wider variety of shapes while maintaining their strength.

Choosing a wine rack should be an enjoyable process. Consider it an
investment for all the wines you will try today as well as those you will keep
for a special occasion down the road.

Jason Connors is a wine lover providing valuable tips and advice on wine cellar design [], wine making, and wine basics []. Read his recent report on “What To Look For in a Wine Cooling System []”.

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