Since the days of Plato­ and his Symposium, men and women have been making, enjoying and documenting their wine, and today, wine cellars come in about as many varieties as the wine drinkers who build them.

There’s the aboveground cellar, or wine room, the underground cellar and the small cellar, which holds fewer than 500 bottles and might be known as your wine closet.  While each of these storage areas can be purchased or built to suit the collector’s needs, there are two distinct differences in cellars: they can be either active or passive, meaning the temperature is controlled (active) or passive. Like milk, wine can spoil, and changes in temperature or light exposur­e can increase the speed of the spoilage.

This is important, since proper storage can make all the difference in the flavor and body of your wine, and might even allow it to develop into itself as it matures. At the same time, aging a bottle for too long can ruin its subtle flavors. Wine cellars work to protect your precious bottles from the elements, and they also give you a nice place to show off your collection and store those vintage labels.