There’s nothing worse than spending €75, or a lot of any currency, on a really lovely bottle of wine, bringing it (or six, or 12, or 20) home to share with friends on a special occasion only to open it up and find it’s gone off after a few months in Hong Kong humidity.
Most of us drink our wine within hours of buying it, making storage a moot issue. But sometimes that trip to Italy, or Australia, or Argentina makes it hard to leave some of the wines behind — particularly labels unavailable in the SAR. In this climate, storing wine at home is something of a crapshoot. If you’re serious about your wine, you may want to consider a wine fridge. “For a bottle of wine that is not meant for long term aging, a consumer wine fridge is sufficient for up to a few months,” says wine merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd private account manager Jose Lau. “If it’s a fine, delicate, matured bottle of wine, having a wine fridge is definitely worth the investment. Weather damage is not a myth; warmth and humidity in Hong Kong can be dangerous to the condition and performance of the wine and cork.”
According to industry bible Wine Spectator, there are a handful of cellaring rules to remember (aside from long-term aging). Among those, storing wines at a constant temperature between 7 and 18 degrees Celsius (13 is ideal) with consistency the more crucial factor, in low light and UV-free conditions and in a nice, comfortable, low-mould 50 to 80 percent humidity.
Seeing as most of us have no space for a proper wine cellar, a standalone or built-in addition is an option. Before you buy, remember to go up in size from what you think you’ll need (10 bottles becomes 30 quickly if you have storage), make sure the racks are flexible or suitable for holding odd-shaped bottles, and consider how important a dual zone unit (two temperature areas for reds and whites) really is; it will affect your budget. As a guide, find a unit with a 5 to 18-degree range, that features UV-resistant glass doors and vibration protection. Most reputable brands meet those benchmarks; these options certainly do. Stalwarts Wing On and Fortress and scrappy home appliance supplier Ecox can help during the browsing stage.
If a kitchen redesign on the horizon and the dream of proper wine storage is part of that, Siemens, Miele, Whirlpool, White Westinghouse and Vinvautz (among others) all make built-in models. Siemens’ dual zone coolModul ($78,800) holds up to 98 bottles in a sleek, stylish cabinet with racks on telescopic rails. The coolModul mimics professional storage facilities with humidity control and also feature a holiday mode for long absences. Miele’s built-in, tri-zone MasterCool ($93,000) holds 102 bottles and adjusts as low as 3 degrees, and the more compact undercounter dual-zone model has space for 38 ($36,000). More affordable is Whirlpool’s new ARC series ($3,590 to $15,790) boasting the same 5 to 18 degree range and a fixed humidity level above 65 percent. Only the ARC1800 is dual zone, but the range of capacities — seven to 154 bottles — make a fit easy.
For renters storing your precious nectar properly is far from out of the question. Serious wine aficionados will gravitate to Miele’s freestanding, stainless steel models ($75,000), holding a whopping 178 bottles in three temperature zones and features an optional built-in SommelierSet for decanting, storing open bottles and cooling glasses to optimal temperature ($95,000). It is the Ferrari of cellars. Whirlpool’s freestanding ARC ($6,490) holds 40 bottles and has all the features of the fixed cabinets. White Westinghouse makes two standalones ($2,680 to $5,022) holding 36 and 61 bottles, but with a minimum temperature of 7. Finally, Vinvautz’s Grand Cru Classe series ($1,698 to $14,988) hold as few as six bottles and as many as 166. If you’re not sure where to start, this French cellar is a good as any. It’s French. They know a bit about wine.