Creating a Smart Home Wine Cellar
Collecting wine is almost—almost—as fun as drinking it. But if you’re going to get the most from the bottles you put away for a few months or even years, you need to store them correctly. Most of us don’t have the setup for a regular wine cellar, but you can still have a great experience with a smart wine cellar to go with the rest of your smart home. Let’s look at what’s available.
What does a smart home wine cellar do?
If you store wine properly, it maintains its quality—or even gets better with age. Store it incorrectly, however, and it turns into undrinkable vinegar. Humans have been storing wine for thousands of years, so we know what it takes: a cool (45-64ºF), dark space where the temperature and humidity stay constant, and without vibrations or movement that can disturb the bottles. There’s a reason French winemakers use caves.
Unfortunately, unless you have a cave under your house, finding the ideal spot to store wine can prove tricky. It’s likely to be too warm and too bright, and the temperature and humidity will change too much with the seasons. Also, the bottles will probably get jostled around too much by all the comings and goings. It’s not that you can’t keep a bottle sitting in a kitchen wine rack for a few weeks, but if you want to store and age high-quality wines, you need a home wine cellar or wine fridge.
As well as keeping your bottles safe, most home wine cellars can also maintain it at close to its ideal drinking temperature, whether you’re storing red or white wine. Many people drink reds too warm and whites too cold, as the perfect drinking temperature for most wines is somewhere warmer than fridge temperature but cooler than room temperature. (Without a wine cellar, the fix is to take whites out of the fridge 30 minutes before you drink them and put reds in the fridge 30 minutes before you drink them.)
Smart wine cellars do everything a regular wine cellar or wine fridge can do, but add in smart features like the apps that track what bottles you have on hand, precise temperature control for each shelf, sensors that track the humidity changes and even robot arms that can bring you the bottle you want to drink.
Now, while these are undeniably smart home devices, because they’re so specialized they don’t integrate much with smart home hubs and other popular smart home gear. So, Alexa might not bring you a bottle of wine—but a robot still can.
Custom robot sommeliers
The WineCab Wine Wall is the ultimate in smart wine cellars—though with prices starting at $179,000, it’s probably more of a fantasy purchase than a real option for most oenophiles.
The Wine Wall is a temperature- and humidity-controlled cabinet that comes in 11’ and 15’ models, with a 6’ model in development that will presumably be “more affordable.” You don’t stock the Wine Wall yourself, however, your robot sommelier does.
Seriously, the Wine Wall has a six-axis robotic arm that takes, stores and serves whatever bottles you order using the built-in iPad Pro. This keeps the temperature and humidity constant inside the cabinet—and looks ridiculously cool.
As well as the robot arm, there’s an AI sommelier app that can suggest pairings for the wines you have on hand. And the contents of your cellar are automatically scanned and synced with Delectable, so you can check what’s in your wine inventory from your smartphone, and you can even biometrically lock the cabinet, so only you have access to the whole collection—or just to certain bottles.
(While I doubt I’ll ever own a Wine Wall, I’m choosing to view it as inspiration rather than something entirely unattainable. And I hope that one day robot sommeliers can be had for a little less hard cash.)
If you don’t have a couple hundred thousand dollars to spend on a robotic wine cellar, don’t worry, you aren’t out of options. Great smart wine cellars are significantly more accessible—and don’t take up 15’ of wall space.
The LG Signature Wine Cellar holds 65 bottles on precise temperature- and humidity-controlled shelves, so you can keep your reds, whites and even Champagnes stored for the long term or ready to drink immediately. It’s got an opaque black glass panel that blocks UV light, but knock on it twice and the interior lights come on, so you can see what’s inside without disturbing the carefully climate-controlled conditions. It’s also got two fridge drawers for storing charcuterie, cheeses and other wine-accompanying essentials.
The La Sommelière Ecellar185 is, so far, only available in France, but it’s too cool not to consider. It’s designed for aging wines. As you add bottles, you scan them with the Vinotag app. The sensors on each shelf then track precisely where every bottle of wine in your collection is. You can set things up so you get an alert when you run low on your favorites—or when a bottle reaches maturity.
Smart sensors for your current setup
If you’re already storing wine in your basement or another dark, cool place, you might not need a smart cellar. Instead, adding some smart environmental sensors that let you know if the conditions change can give you a lot of the benefits.
The Winesor sits with your bottles and tracks the humidity and temperature. If anything changes, you’ll get an alert on your smartphone. There’s also a monitoring package with two sensors and one probe available from Sensorist, but it requires a yearly subscription.
Better wine—without the sticker shock
If smart wine fridges aren’t a fit, there are a handful of other smart gadgets out there that can improve the wine you drink without the need to spend thousands of dollars.
The iFavine iSommelier smart decanter and Aveine Smart Wine Aerator promise to make any bottle of wine taste better by precisely aerating it in seconds rather than hours. The iSommelier looks better on a table, though the Aveine enables you to scan bottles with the connected smartphone app to automatically get the correct aeration settings.
The Kelvin K2 Smart Wine Thermometer ensures that every bottle of wine you drink is the correct temperature. You clip it onto the bottle you want to drink, pop the bottle in the fridge and wait until a smartphone alert tells you it’s in the perfect temperature range.
And, if it was the collection-tracking features of a smart cellar that really took your fancy, then you need nothing more than a smartphone. Apps like CellarTracker and Delectable let you scan bottles as you add them, mark them off as you drink them and otherwise help you keep a thorough record of what you have on hand. They can even help you estimate its financial value if, say, you want to know what your guests brought to the party!
Product features may have changed and are subject to change.