Advertisement

Regardless of whether you want a simple tabletop stand for keeping bottles close, or an elaborate wine cellar, a well designed wine rack can keep your wines in good shape, so you can enjoy them like they’re meant to.

When you’re designing anything from a pallet wine rack, to wall wine rack, wall mounted wine rack, under cabinet wine rack, or a corner wine rack, etc., there are a few guidelines you can follow to make your life easier.

Wine rack materials

You’ll find that wine racks are usually made of wood. A wood wine rack is resistant to rot and mold in damp cellar conditions. For this kind of wine bottle rack, redwood and mahogany are the best woods to use. They also retain enough moisture so the corks don’t dry and crack, and let oxygen inside the bottle, which spoils the wine.

1823-North-Doheny-by-Meridith-Baer-Home Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Meridith Baer Home

Cedar is to be avoided when you’re building your wine rack, since it has a strong odor that can alter the taste of the wine. Walnut and oak are other options, but when staining the wood, choose a water-based stain, because the scent from using a petroleum-based product will damage the wine.

Booth-by-Visbeen-Architects Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Visbeen Architects

There’s also options for making a metal wine rack, or a wine glass rack, specifically a hanging wine glass rack, for example. You could even go with polyvinyl chloride pipes, they’re good for a small wine rack as well.

Mixing materials is also an option. For example, if you don’t know how to weld, metal may not be the best idea, but you can use metal rods for shelving, and secure them into a wooden frame.

604-Acacia-Brandon-Archit-by-604-Acacia-Brandon-Architects-Patterson-Construction- Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Jeri Koegel Photography

You can be creative, and you’ll find out that you can actually reuse a lot of items when you’re making your wine rack. Scraps of wood can be easily used, and old metal hand railings make perfect bottle shelves. Only your imagination can limit the possibilities.

Configurations

Wine racks can be done in various configurations. From rectangular bins you can stack, to curved, flowing forms, and you can have anything from a countertop wine rack, to complete wine rack furniture. A good modern wine rack will store the bottles horizontally, on their sides, with the neck pointing downward.

ETHAN-CARMEL-ARCHITECTS-by-Yaniv-Schwartz-Photographer Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Yaniv Schwartz – Photographere

This keeps the cork moist and swollen from the contact it makes with the wine, so air can’t reach the wine. Some of the racks will hold the body, while others will hold the bottle at just the neck or the shoulder.

Brock-Renovation-by-Wanda-Ely-Architect-Inc. Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Wanda Ely Architect Inc.

A simple style are wine cubes. They’re stackable, rectangular boxes that hold a lot of bottle sizes and shapes. You can also use an X-shaped divider, and further divide the cubes into four smaller ones.

Dimensions

When discussing how to build a wine rack, dimensions are important. The number of bottles, as well as their size, that a rack can hold, varies widely. Most of them hold a regular, 25-ounce bottle, but you can also make them so they can fit a smaller or larger bottle.

Monmouth-Beach-House-by-i.fromkin-interiors Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: i.fromkin interiors

Oversized bottles usually come at a 50-ounce magnum, or 100-ounce jeroboams, but there may be some variations, especially with odd-shaped bottles. To accommodate for the extra weight, use stronger supports when you’re constructing it.

Oenophile-by-Structures-Inc. Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Structures, Inc.

You should also determine how big or how small the wine rack will be. Measure the space, and imagine it lined with wine bottles. If it seems too big, and holds more wine than you would normally keep, add shelves that could hold other things, such as wine glasses.

Location

Even though a rustic wine rack looks good in a traditional room, this isn’t about looks. Wine racks should be placed in dark, cool locations, like a closet or a basement. This keeps the taste from deteriorating, and the ideal temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit, where the relative humidity is around 70%.

Mod-Redux-by-Capoferro-Design-Build-Group Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Capoferro Design Build Group

Too much humidity will result in mold on the cork, which contaminates the wine. Too little, and you get a dry, cracked cork, which results in a sour taste. The best option is a cooling unit and a humidifier, to maintain the best conditions. It’s also important to monitor the temperature and humidity with a wireless temperature sensor that will warn you of any critical changes to the conditions.

River-Watch-by-Scott-Christopher-Homes Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Scott Christopher Homes

Use a dark room, or UV-resistant doors, because UV light can deteriorate the essential compounds. Even if you’re storing wine for a short period of time, use LED lights, or keep the wine away from high-heat fixtures.

Creating the shelves for the wine rack

A basic shelf can be made with a pair of rails, dowels or rods. The bars should be parallel to the floor, but perpendicular to the bottles. One should be near the top of the bottle, and the other one near the bottom.

Wine-Room-by-John-Kraemer-Sons Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: John Kraemer & Sons

You can also make a shallow indentation in the front rail, to prevent the bottle from rolling along the rack. And, you could add dividers, to keep bottles separated. If you’re not mounting it against a wall, adding a sheet of wood to the rack is a good idea, to prevent the bottles from sliding out of the rack, or falling out when bumped.

Securing it in place

A small, free standing rack is pretty stable as is, but a large rack, or a wall mounted one, should be carefully secured into place. Use L shaped brackets to secure it near the top.

shim-house-by-Chang-Sylligardos-Architects Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Chang + Sylligardos Architects

For a larger rack, or wall-mounted racks, you can even add additional brackets at intervals for added support. If you’re screwing into drywall, add anchors so the rack doesn’t pull free from the wall.

Adding decorative elements

Once you have the basic structure done, you can add some decorative elements. If you want to add personality, add flourishes to the top, bottom, or the corners. Find large wooden knobs, and make feet at the bottom. Crown molding can give you a subtle, elegant touch, or you can add floral swag to top the rack.

Kitchen-by-Cheryl-D-Company Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Cheryl D & Company

How to make a wine rack for your small cabinet

If you use wine often, display it with a small rack you can make with lattice. Lattice is commonly used as a rack system. With the 3” wide, diamond-shaped openings, only trim and fit should be taken care of.

Rustic-Modern-Wine-Bar-by-AVID-Associates-LLC Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: AVID Associates LLC

The bottles will slip into the openings, and it will be both convenient and practical, while looking good. If you want to hide it, just build the lattice structure inside a cabinet, but make sure you can open and close the cabinet door when you want to.

  • Measure the cabinet on the inside, both height and width. Use a square to mark your measurements on a 5/8” x 48” x 48” lattice panel. Lay out the measurement for the width from the bottom, to orient the openings vertically.
  • Cut out the measurements with a jig say, and make a lattice panel that matches the inside dimensions of the cabinet. The panel can be used as a template so you can trace another one on the remaining piece, effectively leaving you with two identical lattice panels.
  • With a miter saw, cut four pieces of ¾” x 2” x 24” pine, to the height of your lattice panels. Stand two of them on the edge, parallel to each other, and place one of the lattice panels on the top. Make sure it’s flush at the bottom and top of the pine pieces. With a staple gun and 1 ¼” staples, fasten the lattice panel to the top and bottom. The cut-off ends of the pieces of lattice are where you shoot through. Do this with both panels.
  • Measure the cabinet’s depth. Divide it into three equal sections, and make marks. Slide the first panel, and center it on the mark furthest from the front. Use 1 ¼” staples to secure it inside. Slide the next panel, and center it on the mark closest to the opening, and shoot staples through it to secure it.
  • Slide the wines in the diamond-shaped holes. There you go, you have a new rack!

A few tips and warnings

  • Small cabinets don’t usually have shelves, but if you do have one, cut it out or tap it out with a hammer. Depending on the cabinet’s depth, you can move the lattice panels to best utilize the cabinet.
  • Before selecting or purchasing lattice panels, check for defects, and reject any that aren’t perfect.
  • When working with wood, wear eye protection.

Tradewinds-by-Charles-Clayton-Construction-Inc Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Charles Clayton Construction Inc

Revamping a vertical cabinet

If you have a tall, vertical cabinet, such as a curio cabinet, you can use it to make a wine rack that takes up little floor space. Remove the doors, and make cubby-style dividers for the cupboard area, where each section is large enough to hold one bottle.

The-Reserve-Golf-Club-by-The-Foxx-Company Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: The Foxx Company

Add crown molding or other decorative trim, to personalize it. Thin wood trim strips can give you a hanging glass storage space inside the highest part of the cabinet. To illuminate the stemware, add thin LED light strips, hidden from the front of the cabinet.

China cabinet, or upcycled hutch

A china cabinet is already made to display items within, and you can make it a very attractive wine rack with plenty of storage. Add planks in an X shape in one open area of the hutch, and stack bottles in each of the four resulting partitions.

Tuscan-Custom-Home-on-Golf-by-Jenkins-Custom-Homes Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Jenkins Custom Homes

If you want a different look, use terra-cotta pipes, or roofing tiles, which will separate wine bottles from each other. Install a glass holder under the top of the cabinet, and stash spare synthetic corks, corkscrews or coasters inside the drawers.

Mobile wine center

If you have a kitchen island, or microwave stand, or any other freestanding cabinet, you can turn it into a portable party center with only a few modifications. If needed, you can add locking casters so you can move it around.

Kessick-Wine-Cellars-by-Kessick-Wine-Storage-Systems Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Kessick Wine Storage Systems

If it’s tall, you can double it as a wine bar, or seating area. As a support base, if the bottom seems flimsy, add plywood. You can store bottles horizontally in cabinets, and use a homemade or store-bought rack, to keep them separated and securely in place when moving.

Contemporary-Muskoka-by-Lischkoff-Design-Planning Wine Rack Design: The Various Types And Best Practices
Image source: Elms Interior Design

To keep the doors closed, add magnetic door catches, or if you don’t have a door front, add decorative slats across the wine storage area. Make sure they’re hinged on one end, and made from boards that are reclaimed from the wine crates. Use a bookcase-style portion to store the stemware, using a hanging wire glass rack.

Summary

Choosing or making the proper wine rack for your collection is just as personal as choosing furniture for your living room. You have options from regular table top racks, to larger wood kit solutions, or even designing your own custom wine cellar, and there are hundreds of factors that may influence that decision.