All Bottled Up - New York Times Article

All Bottled Up - New York Times Article

October 22, 2009

Excerpt from Article “All Bottled Up” as published in The New York Times:

by Julie Scelfo

Oct. 19, 2009

FINDING a visually appealing way to store wine bottles at home can be challenging, particularly since they need to be kept horizontal.

“Wine is a living thing, so it’s always changing,” explained Emily Wines, a master sommelier. “The reason we store the bottles on their side is so the cork doesn’t dry out. If it’s standing up, the cork will shrink, and then you end up with oxidized flavors.”

Ms. Wines — the master sommelier and wine director at Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, a company in San Francisco with nearly 50 restaurants in 15 states — has been garnering notice since winning the Remi Krug Cup in 2008. The industry equivalent of an Olympic gold medal, it is awarded to the highest-scoring person to pass, on the first try, all three parts of the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam, a rigorous test administered once or twice a year by an international governing body. (If the criteria is not met, the cup is not given out, as happened this year.)

With a name like Wines, is it any wonder she won? “I hated the name all my life, but it’s working for me now,” she said.

Taking a break from completing plans for Square 1682, a restaurant that opened this month in Philadelphia, Ms. Wines went shopping recently for stylish, functional wine storage in San Francisco, where she lives, and online.

At the Wine Hardware Store at the Wine Appreciation Guild, a showroom in South San Francisco, Calif., that she likened to Disneyland for sommeliers, she chose the Modularacks, Australian pine racks that can be stacked like Lincoln Logs. “You need an air-conditioning unit for the room, but this is the fastest way to turn your walk-in closet or office into a wine cellar on the cheap,” she said.

Countertop racks are also acceptable, she said, but not for long-term storage in a kitchen, where temperatures fluctuate. “I only keep wines in my kitchen in a little wine rack that I’m drinking within a week,” she said. And even then, the racks should never be placed near the stove or on top of the refrigerator, she added, because “the heat will cook the wine.”

She liked the slenderness of several countertop models, including the Bali, a wavy four-tier, 12-bottle wood rack at, and the Cru, a sculptural metal rack from Umbra at, which has round slots for six bottles, and is nice to look at “even if it is empty,” she said.

For bottles that will sit around longer, she suggested using a refrigerator like the 12-bottle Thermoelectric Wine Cooler, at Her Vinotemp cooler holds 60 bottles, which she keeps at about 58 degrees.

“It’s cool enough,” she said. “You could go down to 35 or 40 if you want — that definitely keeps the wine a lot more stable, but that ends up costing more on your energy bill.” JULIE SCELFO