A special wine can bring you back to a special occasion, loved one, event or a place.
That’s why your wine cellar door is the door to your soul. Within these cellar walls is not just a collection of wines you’ve discovered and purchased for consumption; there are also memories of that first sniff, swirl and passing by your lips, fulfilling your deepest desires and expectations of that particular wine.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder that when you plan, design and build your wine cellar, the doorway demands special consideration and attention. After all, the door you choose is much like your town’s law enforcement — there to serve and protect. It can ensure your wines are always at the proper temperature and humidity and will protect your fine wine investment from theft, prying eyes and underage hands.
Your cellar door should not be an afterthought. If poorly selected, your door could be the weakest link in your wine cellar because its moving parts seal over and over again each time you enter or depart.
Although it’s a decorative and aesthetic piece of your cellar, the integrity, insulation capabilities and airtightness of your door will ensure your wine collection ages under the perfect conditions that each bottle deserves.
To ensure you make the right decision when choosing the door for your cellar, consider the following components:
1. The materials
Wood: Stained cellar doors are usually mahogany, pine or redwood. You can go with either a plain door or one with external carvings such as grape vines or custom work. If you choose a stained wooden door, opt for one that matches the racks inside your cellar.
Glass: Regular glass doors will not be thick enough or airtight enough. You need an insulated or thermal glass panel door. It should be at least double or ideally triple pane with a vacuum or filled with gas between panes.
Etched Glass: These doors have the same standards as plain standard glass, yet a custom design is etched on the glass. You can either choose from available designs or have your own etched onto the door.
Iron: In most cases, wrought iron is a decorative enhancement for your glass or wooden door. In some cases, a separate iron door is mounted in front of your glass door. This can be used as decoration or for security, such as a lockable door with a fancy wine cellar key — perhaps worn around your neck, as you are the keeper of the wine.
Galvanized insulated metal door: These can be either solid or surround insulated glass. Most glass doors include some sort of metal decorations.
2. The airtightness of the frame
No matter what type of door you choose, your cellar door should have weather stripping around the frame and a sweep on the bottom.
Although they are clean and simple, frameless glass doors should not be used for wine cellars because they generally do not provide an airtight seal. Plus, they’re usually made from single-pane glass, meaning the high thermal load of your cellar would require an oversized cooling unit to maintain the optimal temperature.
3. The dimensions
Depending on the size of your wine cellar entrance, you can choose a single door or a grand entrance composed of a single glass or wood door and insulated glass panels on one or both sides. This option can add security to your cellar while showing off the splendor of an interior. Especially well-designed ones feature rows of wine bottles and perhaps a table, chairs and a candelabra.
In the case of new construction, if you’re building a home or remodeling your present one, you could install a glass door within an entire wall of insulated glass. This would be the ultimate way to show off your wine collection to admiring guests. But keep in mind that the more glass in your cellar, the more BTUhs will be required to maintain the ideal cellar temperature.
4. The security
Investing funds in your wine cellar is just that — an investment. The need for security should never be overlooked.
No matter what materials you use for your cellar door, there are numerous methods of securing your wine cellar with door locks. The simplest method is a standard lock-and-key or deadbolt lock.
For those wanting a little more security and flexibility, you can install a keypad locking system so you can set or change the combination. The newer fingerprint recognition systems will bring you one step closer to an even more secure space, since only you are guaranteed entry.
5. A personal touch
If you choose a solid wood door, your decoration options include plaques identifying this door as the entrance to your wine cellar. A custom woodworking shop can create fantastic decorative designs for you, or you can find a cellar door that already matches your decor.
If your choice of door includes iron, you can be as creative as your credit card limit allows. There are some stunning designs out there in the world of wine and wine cellars. Your creativity will help you create a safe home for your wines with fit, form, function and beauty that will make you forever proud.
About the author: Gary Peterson resides in Wine Country, Oregon, home of Pinot Noir, and has been a wine merchant as well as wine writer and blogger for the past eight years. His own extensive wine collection is kept in the unique self designed wine cellar in his home.