Storing magnum wine bottles is a major challenge for many collectors. One member of the Wine Berserkers forum had a few magnums of Krug and Riesling in off-site storage that she wanted to keep in a wine rack at home. This was a problem because the bottles were not only too large for a standard-sized rack to hold, but some of them were also unusually shaped. The Krug magnums were wide and heavy at the base, causing the neck of the bottles to tip too far forward when they were laid on their sides. To deal with this issue, she had a custom rack made specifically for her magnums and provided the company building the racks with the exact measurements of an actual Krug magnum to ensure the bottles would fit properly.
Custom shelving or wall racks, protective cases, and professional storage are all viable options for storing magnum wine bottles, but the best option for you will depend on what kind of cellar and collection you have. This guide will point you to the best storage method for your collection of large-format wines.
Why Storing Magnums Is Different Than Storing Standard Bottles
Magnums (1.5-liter bottles) aren’t always just larger versions of standard 750 ml bottles. Some magnums are also unusually shaped and this makes them harder to store. For example, a magnum of Krug champagne is thicker at the base and has a narrower neck than a magnum of Louis Roederer Cristal. The difference between Krug and Louis Roederer magnums is due to the fact that every producer makes large-format bottles differently. Some make bottles that have the same proportions as standard bottles but use thicker glass to make the bottle sturdier. Others actually change the shape of the bottle so that it is more structurally sound. It’s important to take the shape of the bottle into account when deciding how to store your magnums.
Large-format wine bottles often age more evenly than smaller format bottles, in part because the temperature inside the bottle is more stable.
However, even if all of the bottles in your magnum collection are just scaled-up versions of standard bottles, you may still run into storage problems. A few of the most common issues are:
- They may not fit inside standard-sized racks. The necks of magnum bottles often stick out too far from the rack because the bottle is too tall. The base of the bottle sometimes doesn’t fit inside standard racks either because the bottles are wider than normal.
- They take up more space. The more magnums you have, the fewer bottles you can keep in your cellar. You may run out of room more quickly than if you only bought standard bottles.
- The glass is very thick. This makes the bottle sturdier, but it also makes the bottle incredibly heavy. The extra weight could cause your wine rack to bend or break.
- Magnums require more storage time. Because less of the wine is exposed to the ullage near the cork, it matures more slowly. This means that you may have to find a safe space to keep your bottles for many decades.
Despite these challenges, storing magnum wine bottles for an extended period can be rewarding. Large-format wine bottles often age more evenly than smaller format bottles, in part because the temperature inside the bottle is more stable. Even so, properly aging a large-format bottle requires you to carefully choose a storage method based on the size of your collection and the amount of storage space you have available.
The Best Options for Storing Magnum Wine Bottles
Storing magnum wines isn’t complicated if you plan in advance. The biggest mistake that collectors make when they start magnum collections is that they buy wine before they know exactly where they’re going to put it. This generally works out fine for standard bottles, but it can be dangerous for magnums. Setting a large-format bottle on the floor is risky because you might accidentally knock it over, and storing the bottle upright could result in the cork drying out, ultimately causing the wine to oxidize.
Cases of wine monopolize floor space, which is often limited in a home cellar.
Poorly-designed wine racks can also be hazardous. I know one collector who stored his magnums on their sides in a standard diamond wine rack. He didn’t care that the necks of the bottles stuck out a bit since the body of the bottle still fit inside the rack. One day, however, he accidentally brushed up against one of the bottles’ necks and the wine fell out of the rack. While the bottle wasn’t damaged (it clunked gently onto the floor about a foot below), it was a terrifying moment for my friend. He invested in custom magnum wine racks shortly after that incident.
To prevent these issues, use one of the following storage methods for magnum bottles:
- Custom modular cubes: Cube-shaped wine racks that are designed specifically to hold magnum bottles are much deeper than standard ones so that the necks of the bottles never poke out. Because the cubes are modular, you can add more if you expand your magnum collection. The problem with this method is that it takes up a good deal of space in your cellar.
- Wall racks: Storing magnum wine bottles on the wall saves floor space and enables you to buy more wine. It also makes your large-format bottles a focal point–a magnum of 2009 Château Lafleur will look impressive when mounted on the wall of your cellar. The concern with wall racks is that they must be mounted properly, otherwise the bottles could fall and shatter. Wines stored on wall-mounted racks are also more susceptible to vibrations, such as those caused by earthquakes.
- Wine cases: Many collectors keep magnums in their original cardboard or wooden cases. The benefit of this method is that it’s very easy. The problem is that it can be unsafe and will take up a lot of room in your cellar. Cardboard boxes aren’t durable and are prone to water damage. Even wooden cases can get damaged. Plus, cases of wine monopolize floor space, which is often limited in a home cellar. It’s also harder to get to your magnums and to keep them organized if you stack boxes on top of each other.
- Professional wine storage: Keeping your wine in a professional storage warehouse is the best option for most collectors. You don’t have to worry about storage space, and full-service warehouses keep temperatures and humidity levels stable and protect bottles in the event of natural disasters like earthquakes or floods. It’s also easy to keep your collection organized because you can see exactly which bottles you own and when their drink dates are using the warehouse’s storage app. You’ll have to pay an annual fee to store your bottles, but the yearly cost will usually come to about the same or less than what you would have spent to keep the bottles safe in a home cellar.
Ultimately, the best storage method for your collection depends on how many magnum bottles you own and whether you plan on expanding this collection in the future. There are pros and cons to each storage option; the guide below will help you identify the best method for your needs.
Choosing the Best Storage Method for Your Magnum Collection
If you only have one or two magnum bottles at any given time, then keeping the bottles in the cases they came in or using professional storage are likely the best options. One or two large-format bottles take up relatively little space in a cellar and can be safe in their original cases as long as you protect them from water damage and regulate the temperature inside the cellar. Professional storage is also a great option. For beginner collectors, it means they don’t have to build a home wine cellar or carefully manage environmental conditions. It’s also a good option for collectors who want to save their magnum bottles for special occasions. It’s tempting to drink these bottles too early, but when you keep them in a storage warehouse, you’re less likely to make a spontaneous decision to open them.
Professional storage is generally a better choice for collectors with large magnum wine collections because it comes with built-in protection from natural disasters.
Collectors who own many magnum bottles or who want to buy more of these wines should also choose professional storage or go with custom racks or shelves. A large collection of magnums stored in cases stacked on the floor very quickly becomes too cumbersome and unorganized. Custom storage options help experienced collectors stay organized and make the most of the space they have. However, custom storage racks and shelves aren’t perfect. Not only can they be costly and time-consuming to build, but they may also fail if they’re poor quality or if a natural disaster (like an earthquake) strikes. Professional storage is generally a better choice for collectors with large magnum wine collections because it comes with built-in protection from natural disasters and doesn’t take up any space in a home cellar. Another benefit to full-service storage is that some services, such as Vinfolio, don’t charge more to store larger bottles. Instead, they charge a set price based on the number of bottles you plan on storing, which you can calculate using this online storage rate estimator. Professional storage services help you keep your magnum collection safe while granting the freedom to add to it as much as you want.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.