Chicago Wine Cellars – Reading & Understanding Wine Labels

Drinking wine is a common part of social activities, especially for wine enthusiasts. No dinner or party is complete without a glass or two of wine to complement the food and lively conversation.

For wine lovers and collectors, it is essential to understand not just the taste and flavor of the wine, but also its producers and the region where it came from. It is interesting to note the kinds of wines that collectors have in their wine cabinets, wine racks, or wine cellars.

A basic lesson in wine is reading the wine bottle label. By reading the wine label, one will find a lot of information on the wine he is about to add to or pick from his Chicago custom wine cellar.

REQUEST A WINE CELLAR SPECIALIST TO CONTACT YOU!For those who don’t have a home wine cellar, it is easy enough to get table wines from wine stores, but it is important to have a basic understanding of the wine labels just in case the wine clerk is not adept to answer your queries.

You will also be assured of the quality of the wine you are buying as certain features are written on the label. A collector’s wine bottles in his residential wine cellar are a pure joy to show off to friends and acquaintances, especially if one knows how to read or what to look for in wine labels. This is probably the true test of one’s knowledge in wines.


Buy Quality Wines for Your Chicago Wine Cellar – Learn How to Read a Wine Label

There are five basic elements written on wine labels. These are the vineyard, vintage, appellation, bottling, and alcohol content.


The vineyard is where the wine is produced. The name of the vineyard tells the buyer its reputation. Sometimes for wine collectors, the name of the vineyard is enough motivation to buy or collect a particular wine bottle.


The vintage is the year the grapes were produced and not the year the wine was bottled. Looking at the year together with the appellation and vineyard or producer will tell the collector if the wine is good to be aged for years or not. However, in most commercial wine cellars or wine stores, wines are ready to be consumed and not aged too long as this may affect the quality of the wine.


Wineries in certain regions possess qualities that dictate the kinds of grapes that will be produced. Grapes grown and harvested in Napa Valley are different from the grapes grown in other areas.

In most wine producing countries, vineyards are bound by government laws in the usage of the grapes used in the wines they produce. For example, if 95% is required by law, it means that 95% of the grapes used must be produced in the vineyard indicated in the label and the remaining 5% can come from other areas or regions.

To indicate good wine made from high-quality grapes, it is important to look for these phrases on the wine label:

France: Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC)

Italy: Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) or Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC).

Portugal: Denominacao de Origem Controlada (DOC) or Indicacao de Proviniencia Regulamentada (IPR)

Spain: Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOC) or Denominacion de Origen (DO)

Other wines have these on the label:

Grands Cru or Premiers Cru means the wine is produced in a high quality vineyard from a region in France

Gran Reserva means that the wine is bottled for 5 years

Mis en bouteille au chateau / domaine / a la propriete / Gutsabfüllung (estate bottled) means that the wine is bottled by the producers themselves and not by a different entity.

Vieilles Vignes (old vines) means that the wines used are harvested from the vineyard with old vines, usually more than 40 years old in existence. These old vines produce grapes with richer flavors but lower quantities.



Details on bottling of the wine are crucial. Usually good wines are those with grapes grown and harvested by a reputable vineyard and bottled by the same producers. Some vineyards have others bottle their produced wine and this must be indicated on the label.


Alcohol content 

Alcohol content is the amount of alcohol contained in the wine. It also indicates the body and sweetness of the wine. Wines with alcohol content of 14% and above are more full bodied and tannic. Wines with alcohol content of 11% or below are sweeter and lighter. This information can also be used by wine drinkers to know how much alcohol enters their system.

To be familiar with the appellations and vineyards, wine enthusiasts must educate themselves by reading books and other materials about them. One can then take a trip to the nearest wine store to test his knowledge of reading wine labels as this is crucial in obtaining quality wines for your Chicago custom wine cellar.


Chicago Wine Cellars – Wine Barrel vs. Cork Cellar Flooring

WC FLOORING CHICAGOWine cellar flooring is an important aspect of a Chicago wine cellar design.  It can greatly enhance the overall décor and ambiance of a wine storage room..

Wine cellar flooring comes from different materials such as wood, stone, tile, cork, and reclaimed wine barrel.  The only flooring material that is not ideal for wine cellars is carpet.  The cool environment of the storage space can promote mold growth in carpet fibers.

When deciding on the material for your wine cellar flooring, keep in mind that it should be strong enough to hold the total weight load of wine bottles and wine storage racks.  Although there are many flooring options available for Chicago custom wine cellars, two stand out among the rest – wine barrel flooring and cork flooring. It is because these flooring options are not only attractive but also eco-friendly!

Two Types of Chicago Wine Cellar Flooring

 Wine Barrel Flooring 

WINE BARRELWine barrel flooring comes from reclaimed oak wine barrels.  Oak wine barrels typically have a life span of about ten years.  After these wooden containers have fulfilled their purpose, they are dumped in landfills, sold as firewood, or used as planters.  However, a creative and environmentally friendly solution turned these seemingly useless old wine barrels into unique flooring materials.

Reclaimed wine barrel flooring has exceptional features and characteristics that create a one of a kind appearance in any wine storage room.  Each component is unique and incomparable to anything else in the world.

Wine barrel flooring brings in an old world vibe and provides an elegant touch to your wine cellar.  There are three kinds of wine barrel flooring:  stave, wine infusion, and cooperage.

Stave flooring is manufactured from the outer part of the wine barrel.  It has beautiful distinctive markings that come from removed metal hoops.

Infusion wine cellar flooring is produced from the inner part of the barrel.  This wood retains the natural color of the wine that provides it with various shades of red burgundy to white.

Cooperage wood flooring is the top and bottom part of the barrel.  It prominently displays winery brandings and markings.


Cork Flooring  

Aside from sealing wine bottles, cork can also be used as a flooring material for residential custom wine cellars. This material is produced from the bark of cork oak.  Like reclaimed wine barrels, cork flooring is regarded as an eco-friendly product because of its recycling and sustainability features.


There are benefits to using cork flooring for your Chicago wine storage room.  For starters, cork has natural properties that make it highly resistant to mold infestation and less prone to decaying. Cork has excellent cell structure that makes it act like a natural shock absorber.  Another benefit to cork flooring is that it has natural insulation, as well as sound absorbing properties.

Cork flooring is a lightweight material that is durable and affordable.  It is available in different colors and patterns that can match any décor.  Cork wine cellar flooring provides ease of installation and maintenance.


Wine barrel and cork are the material of choice for eco-minded wine collectors.  These flooring products have a lot to offer in terms of beauty and functionality, not to mention contributing to the betterment of the environment.


Tips On Choosing The Right Custom Wine Cellar Cooling Unit Chicago

The Different Types of Custom Wine Cellar Refrigeration Systems

Wine is a very sensitive beverage. It needs to be stored in the right conditions because it will spoil otherwise. A custom wine cellar with a quality wine cellar cooling unit installed can provide the ideal conditions for wine storage. On the market, there are various wine cellar cooling systems to choose from. Learn about the 3 basic types of custom wine cellar cooling systems and find out which is the right one for your home wine cellar.

1. Split Wine Cellar Cooling Systems

Oftentimes, Split Wine Cellar Cooling Systems are the most efficient way to cool a custom wine cellar. In most cases, cooling unit condensers are very noisy and take up a lot of space. With a Split Cooling System, the condenser is placed in a location outside the cellar, where heat and noise are localized, while the evaporator, which is quiet, is placed inside (or near) the custom wine cellar. You need to have a licensed HVAC/R technician install Split Custom Wine Cellar Refrigeration Systems.

Split Wine Cellar Cooling Systems can either be:

a.       Ductless

The Ductless Split Wine Cellar Cooling Systems do not need venting into an adjacent room because the condenser, which is the part that produces heat, is placed in a separate location. There is no ducting connecting the units. Instead, what connects them is a simple line set, which is comprised of small copper tubing and some electrical wiring.

b.      Ducted

Ducted Split Wine Cellar Refrigeration Systems have benefits similar to those of ductless systems. What differentiates them is that with the Ducted Split Wine Cellar Cooling Systems, there is no visible equipment inside the custom wine cellar at all. Cool air is efficiently ducted to and from the custom wine cellar. Unlike the ductless types, the evaporator is not inside the wine cellar at all in the ducted types.

2. Ducted Self-Contained Cellar Cooling Units

Ducted Self-Contained Cooling Systems can be installed up to 25 feet from the wine cellar. The cool air is blown into the custom wine cellar and the heat is exhausted to the outside of the home through a duct. This type of wine cellar cooling can be a little bit noisy, depending on how it is installed.

3. Self-Contained Through the Wall Custom Wine Cellar Refrigeration Units

Among all the custom wine cellar cooling units, self-contained through-the-wall cooling units are the most cost-effective as well as the easiest to install. These units can even be installed without the help of a licensed HVAC/R technician. The units are simply mounted on the wall of your custom wine cellar. One of the disadvantages to having this wine cellar cooling system is that it makes a lot of noise.

One end of this cooling system produces cool air and blows it into the residential wine cellar. The other end of the system absorbs the heat from the cellar and takes it out into a room adjoined to the custom wine cellar. It is important to remember that the adjoined room should be at least twice the size of your cellar, unless the heat is exhausted into another area.

Importance of Proper Insulation and Lighting in Wine Cellars

A properly functioning wine cellar needs more than just a cooling system to help achieve the necessary conditions for storing and aging wines.  Efficient insulation is an essential aspect of proper wine storage.  A highly insulated wine storage room ensures that the storage environment is stable enough for wines to mature to their full potential.

Check out more custom wine cellars here!

                        Custom Wine Cellars Chicago Illinois

There are three primary reasons for insulating custom wine cellars Chicago Illinois:  it lowers energy costs, prevents temperature swings, and maintains the humidity at ideal levels.  Poor wine cellar insulation causes the cooling unit to work doubly hard to meet the required climate conditions, which can lead to the system breaking down more often and thereby contribute to higher energy bills.

In order to keep temperature levels within 55 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity at 60% to 75%, all components of a wine cellar that can potentially bring outside air into the storage space should be thoroughly insulated.  This means that insulation should not only be limited to cellar walls, but also extend to the cellar entry door, the floor, the windows, and the ceiling.

Common materials used for insulating custom wine cellars are fiberglass, foam board, and dry wall.  Fiberglass insulation materials are water resistant and offer versatility in installation, because they can be used for various structural applications.  Foam board provides ease of installation and requires no maintenance, because it is not prone to decay.  Drywall has mold and moisture resistant features that help prevent mold and mildew growth.

Read more about custom wine cellar lighting here!

                               Custom Wine Cellar Lighting

Another important aspect that can impact the overall condition of wine cellars is the lighting system.  Using proper lighting will keep wines safe from the effects of harmful light sources.  A minimal amount of light not only accentuates the various wine bottles on display, but also creates the perfect mood for the wine cellar.

The right kind of wine cellar lighting should provide enough illumination to view wine labels properly, find your way around the room, and conduct wine soirees without generating too much heat that can cause irreversible damage to your wine collection.

Keep in mind that not all light bulbs are suitable for wine cellars.  Regular light bulbs should be avoided, because they have higher heat emissions that can drive up energy costs and increase room temperature.  On the other hand, LED based lighting is ideal for wine cellars because of its energy efficiency and low heat generation.

Wine cellar lighting options come in various designs and configurations, such as recessed can light, track lighting, wall sconces, and recessed halogen lighting systems.  Recessed can lights are installed on ceilings that allow you to accentuate specific areas of the wine room.  Track lighting system is mostly used for highlighting wine labels stored in wine racks with a high reveal display row.

Wall sconces provide better light distribution.  They are usually mounted at eye-level to create the desired lighting effect.  Recessed halogen lighting systems can add a dramatic flair to any wine cellar interior.  This lighting system is equipped with baffles to reduce brightness.  Remember to only use halogen bulbs with UV protective coating to protect wines from UV damage.

Installing dimmer switches and light timers in your wine room can provide additional protection to your investment.  Dimmer switches allow you to adjust the brightness inside the wine cellar.  Light timers help save energy, lower energy bills, and minimize exposure of wine bottles to light.

Custom Wine Cellars Specialists – 2013 Best of Houzz Awardee

Click here to view our elegant custom wine cellars

Click here to see pictures of our custom wine cellars

Nancy Noga, owner and founder of Wine Cellar Specialists Chicago, recently picked up an award for Houzz’s “Best of Houzz” 2013.  Houzz is a popular online community that focuses on architecture, home improvement, design, and decorating.  Based on reviews and ratings of 11 million monthly users, Wine Cellar Specialists emerged as the winner under the Customer Satisfaction category.

Houzz has an extensive collection of interior and exterior photographs of residential homes, and it features articles written by remodeling professionals and home design specialists.  The website is a useful tool for homeowners who may require the services of home improvement experts.

The aim of Houzz’s Best of Houzz award is to give recognition to professionals in the field of remodeling and design.  Top notch professionals and experts are singled out by the Houzz community for their high quality customer service and excellent design skills.

Best of Houzz 2013 has two categories: Customer Satisfaction and Design.  Winners of the Customer Satisfaction award are chosen by homeowner members, and they are evaluated according to their work quality.  As evidenced by the number of professional images saved to Houzz ideabooks, the works of Design awardees are popular amongst the Houzzers (or Houzz users).

Houzz’s Best of Houzz 2013 is regarded as the yardstick of remodeling and decorating excellence.  This award also serves as the platform for influencing architectural styles and design ideas worldwide.  Best of Houzz 2013 is awarded to remodeling experts like Custom Wine Cellars Chicago Specialists for their creative contribution in renovation and design projects for residential properties.


Click here to see more pictures of our wine cellars!

Custom Wine Cellars Chicago by Wine Cellars SPecialists

Custom Wine Cellars Chicago Specialists has been in the custom wine cellar construction business for many years.  With numerous wine cellar projects under their belt, they are the leading experts in building the perfect wine storage room for residential and commercial use.

This design-build firm works individually with clients from beginning to end of wine cellar projects.  They offer free consultation and 3D wine cellar design services for clients to better visualize the outcome of the project.  Wine Cellar Specialist Chicago also provide the best custom racking systems, wine cellar doors, flooring materials, and cooling systems.

With every wine cellar project they take on, their main objective is to turn a remodeling idea into a reality, using only the best materials available and staying within the client’s budget.  Wine Cellar Specialists Chicago makes it a point to understand the storage needs and desires of their clients, and integrate this information into the actual construction of the wine cellar.

Whichever location you choose for your storage space – be it a closet, basement, or under the stairs – Wine Cellar Specialists Chicago is committed to creating a beautiful and dedicated wine cellar based on your design preferences and specifications.

Their dedication to providing quality products and services to clients is the reason Wine Cellar Specialists Chicago are this year’s recipient of Houzz’s “Best of Remodeling” Customer Satisfaction award.  This award is solid proof of their creativity and professionalism, as well as a reflection of their innovative and unique design ideas.

Wine Cellar Specialist, an Award-Winning Wine Cellar Builder

Wine Cellar SPecialists – Award Winning Wine Cellar Project

In November 2012, Wine Cellar Specialists won the Dallas Builders Association ARC

ARC Awards for Wine Cellars SPecialists

ARC Awards for Wine Cellars SPecialists

Award for converting a small kitchen pantry into a fully functional, climate controlled wine cellar.  This wine cellar project was created for the Dann family in Frisco, Dallas.

The family wanted to transform their underutilized kitchen pantry under the stairs into a custom wine cellars Dallas Texas.  The design phase of the project started out with a free 3D illustration provided by Nancy Noga, the owner of Wine Cellar Specialists.  The 3D design provides a preview of what the actual wine closet would look like, as well as outlines the type of racking system.


Click here to contact Wine Cellar SPecialists

Wine Cellar Construction Dallas

Wine cellar construction began by installing green board interior walls, along with proper insulation and vapor barriers.  All these materials are necessary to maintain proper climate conditions for storing and aging wines.

The addition of the racking system was the most challenging part of the construction phase.  Since the kitchen pantry was located under the stairs, the wine closet had a slanted ceiling.  In order to address this architectural impediment, the builders installed a waterfall wine rack that perfectly matched the contours of the ceiling.

The waterfall racking system was placed on the left wall of the wine storage room.  It has 13 ½ inch depth with 1 ½ inch toe kick and base molding and 2 ¾ inch crown molding at the top.  Diamond X storage bins with a horizontal rack above and a little serving table were installed on the back wall.  Diamond bins are ideal for bulk storage because they can hold wine bottles of various sizes.

Racking systems with horizontal reveal display rows were also installed on the back wall, which allow the collector to showcase his favorite wine labels.  A six inch deep horizontal display rack was placed on the right wall near the entryway.  All the racking systems are designed to hold 750 ml wine bottles.

Watch this video to see the wine cellar design process.

Custom Wine Cellars Dallas Texas

The builders used mahogany in constructing the racking system and had it lacquered in order to achieve a beautiful effect.  For the cellar entryway, they opted to install a Tuscan wine cellar door which has an automatic bottom feature that helps prevent scratching of the wine cellar flooring.

For the refrigeration system, the builders decided to use a US Cellar Systems RM 2600 split systems.  In order to hide the cooling unit from view, they built a unique case and grille using the same wood material used in constructing the wine storage racks.

LED based spot lights were used to highlight wine labels and to set the right mood inside the wine closet.  Lighting systems that are LED based are ideal for wine cellar use because they produce less heat compared to regular light bulbs.  They are extremely energy efficient and are not susceptible to vibration and breakage.

The wine closet was originally built to hold 496 wine bottles, but upon completion the Dann family was able to store 514 wine bottles.

Wine Cellar Specialists is the recipient of the 2012 ARC Award for the Best Wine Cellar Remodel, which is a true testament to their commitment to exemplary design skill and work quality.