Property: Don't lose your bottle

at home/ storing wine...
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Some people keep thousands; some have a few singles. Rosalind Russell samples the best ways to keep wine, even if it will be gone in a few hours.

So where do you keep yours bottled up? Under the stairs? In the kitchen? The garage is a popular stash, especially before Christmas when space is at a premium. Imbibers with no temperature-controlled cellar to call their own have to make do with what they have, even if the experts say all three choices are probably the worst you could make. The first two are usually too warm and the last suffers from extremes of temperature, summer and winter.

"However," adds Robin Davis, of the London wine merchant Swig, "most wine bought is consumed within eight hours, so it hardly matters. It looks very attractive in a wine rack in the kitchen. Many people buy wine to drink within a month and it won't come to much harm in that time. The main thing to avoid is massive fluctuations in temperature. It's said the ideal temperature for wine is 55F, or 13C."

Serious but impoverished wine buffs who cannot afford to build a wine cellar (which can cost pounds 5,000) do, Davis says, have another option.

"We use a chap who can build a closet in a spare room, with wine racks and humidifier, professionally insulated, for around pounds 500 depending on size. It will be quite small but if you're going to be staying in the house for five years, it's an investment."

Marion Kaempfert, daughter of the late band leader Bert Kaempfert, and her husband, the Danish jazz composer Allan Botchinsky, had a wine cellar built under the conservatory of their house in St John's Wood, London. Leaving it behind was one of their biggest regrets when the house was sold.

Max Robertson, the voice of radio tennis until his retirement, built a wine cellar to hold between 3,000 and 4,000 bottles at his former home in Wiltshire.

Most people, however, are more inclined to turn Down Under into a soundproof den for children, rather than a cellar full of Jacob's Creek. "The trouble with a lot of cellars is that people found it convenient to put their oil fired boilers in there when central heating was installed," says Colin Swait, an estate agent with Hamptons. "It can ruin cellars for wine."

The Swaits, who when they moved into their home in found the cellar full of hundreds of empty champagne bottles, turned it into a kitchen. For the rest of us, just storing a case or two is the norm, and a wine rack is the answer.

There is no need to buy the old pine stick-and-peg self-assembly racks, a hangover from the Seventies. Furnishing designers have come up with some corkers. Ocean, the mail order firm selling kitchenware, gifts, lighting and furniture, has some of the smartest wine racks, including a wall-mounted "Wave" hanging rack made of beechwood, steamed to bend it into shape and held together with steel rivets. It holds eight bottles and costs pounds 44.95. A beechwood standing rack, holding a dozen bottles is pounds 54.95. Ocean's leather-strap hanging rack, inspired by a barber's shaving strap, will hold six bottles and costs pounds 59, and a free-standing chromed stainless steel rack, holding 16 bottles, is pounds 59.95.

A 16-bottle chrome-plated rack from Presents Direct, a mail order company, is slightly cheaper at pounds 55. Swig's elegant chrome, wall-mounted rack holds eight bottles and sells for pounds 25.

If you would rather spend the money on the wine rather than the rack, Homebase does a more modestly priced rack, holding 15 bottles, for pounds 19.99. The Della Piazza is modular, two feet high and made of rubberwood and chrome.

Jasper Morrison, known for his elegant fluid furniture, has designed a wine rack to hold six bottles, featuring strong plastic in bright green, blue, yellow or opaque white and costing pounds 21.50, available from Purves and Purves.

Swig 0171 431 4412 Ocean 0800 132 985 Presents Direct 0171 371 7017 Homebase (for stockists) 0645 801 800 Purves and Purves 0171 580 8223

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