It’s important to pay careful attention to both the intended and unintended effects of each aspect of your wine cellar design. This is especially true when it comes to wine cellar lighting. Wine cellars are historically dark, subterranean spaces that don’t get any sunlight at all. In fact, many serious wine collectors have also largely eschewed the addition of overhead lighting in favor of low-luminescence options that have minimal impact on both their wine and other treasures stored within the cellar.
However, the latest options in wine cellar design have turned these formerly remote spaces into areas where people can relax and unwind. Modern wine cellars showcase collections with label-out placement, creative racking solutions, and adaptable led lighting that offers the perfect ambiance for entertaining and many special occasions. Custom designing your wine cellar is a chance to incorporate your own cigar humidor and liquor cabinet to include a functional space for wine service. To help you tie it all together, here is everything you need to know about selecting your wine cellar lighting.
How Light Affects Wine
In general, light and wine are rarely a suitable pairing. In some instances, light can permanently alter the chemical composition, flavor, and aroma of wine, and not for the better. Certain levels of light alter the arrangement of wine’s chemical compounds to create wine faults. The wrong lighting in a wine cellar can cause premature aging that lends to a poor favor interaction with the palate and an all-around below-par presentation. Also known as light-struck wine, which means the wine is prematurely aged, and its taste, aroma, color, and mouthfeel have been irreparably changed for the worse.
However, there are factors that can inhibit or slow this destructive process. Certain wine bottles and bottling techniques are virtually impervious to some forms of light. Some wines are less sensitive to light than others, and yet some forms of wine cellar lighting are always problematic. For instance, building a wine cellar that’s bathed in natural light is a recipe for disaster. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays will invariably break down the organic compounds in wine and accelerate the production of acidity, which produces an undesirable taste. Sunlight can even leave you with wine that’s all brown or all yellow in hue. Ideally, your wine cellar should keep your wines cool and away from light, heat, vibration, and temperature fluctuation.
The Top Wine Cellar Lighting Types to Avoid
Natural light or UV light is an automatic no-go in these areas. However, you should also avoid lighting that uses incandescent bulbs or fluorescents. Both of these lighting types produce enough heat to offset your other efforts in temperature control. Adding heat-generating fixtures and appliances to a wine cellar is not the best way to protect your collection. When you want to add lighting to these spaces, your best choices are low-heat alternatives such as LED lights.
Multi-Layer Lighting Plans and Their Appeal in Wine Cellar Design
Visibility and safety are two obvious reasons to add fixed, permanent lighting to your wine cellar rather than goose-stepping through the darkness with a lantern or candle in hand. But there’s also the need for ambiance, usability, and the ability to showcase choice bottles with the utmost pride. Enter the highly adaptable, multi-layer lighting plan. This is a plan that fuses fixed overhead elements like chandeliers with backlighting, wall sconces, and more. With multiple options in adaptable, “wine-safe” lighting at your disposal, you can streamline this space to suit each occasion.
Explore the Exciting Range of Chandeliers
Chandeliers often call to mind the gorgeous yet flashy additions that hang above ballroom floors and are dripping with finely shaped crystals. However, built from bronze, copper, or brass, these lighting fixtures are available in sensational styles, minimalist designs, and more. There are even chandeliers with a slightly futuristic feel. Thus, no matter what the overarching theme of your wine cellar is, these additions shouldn’t be overlooked. When connected to dimmer switches, they serve as an excellent foundation for layered lighting plans; always use LED lighting elements.
Wall Sconces for Soft, Dim Lighting
When you’re taking a friend or two down into your wine cellar to explore your collection, scavenge a robusto cigar from your humidor, or open a bottle of wine to taste, wall sconces will provide the perfect level of illumination. They’ll give you good visibility, adequate safety, and plenty of opportunity to find what you need without exposing your bottles to any extended bad lighting.
For the “wow factor,” add LED backlighting to your cellar lighting plan. LED backlights showcase wine racks at the back of the room, from the top, and in corner locations. They create a stunning halo effect for impromptu cellar tours. Best of all, they’re efficient, and they generate absolutely no heat. While you can’t keep your overhead lights on all of the time, you can stage your LED backlighting ahead of dinner parties and other in-home events so that your collection is always ready for an impressive tour.
Subtlety is everything in cellar lighting. Shadows are just as important as illumination in piquing curiosity, highlighting unique details, and showcasing high-value bottles that you’d prefer to keep in a totally lightless space. Quality, adaptable cellar lighting offers the opportunity to proudly display what would otherwise remain secreted away in the dark. To discover more of the latest options in wine cellar design or to get help implementing your wine cellar lighting plan, get in touch with us today.