Sooner or later, every wine lover begins laying down a few bottles to age. After all, there’s no better way to mark a special occasion or to make an ordinary occasion special than to pop the cork on a prized bottle that you’ve been saving. Wine is a living thing, and the proof is the way it evolves and matures in the bottle.

But wine needs your help to reach a vibrant maturity. Stacking a few bottles on a bookshelf next to the radiator will only lead to vinocide. A true wine lover creates a safe and nurturing environment for his or her wines, no matter how small the collection, and we’ve put together a guide to help you do just that, with advice on how to build your cellar and ensure that it protects your collection, examples of cellars to provide design inspiration, and tips for stocking it with delicious, collectible wines.

The first duty of a wine cellar is to protect bottles from heat, light and vibration, and we’ve spoken with some of the industry’s top designers about how to turn a corner of your basement into a protective cocoon. But a cellar can be much more: Many double as ornate galleries and tasting rooms—a place to proudly display and enjoy wines.

The best part of building a dream cellar is filling it. While the wine auction market is a good place to secure mature and investment-grade wines, you can also source them from good retailers, or plan ahead and buy wines to age for the long term directly from wineries. Whether you want a prestige cellar or one suited to regular entertaining, we provide buying strategies that fit your lifestyle and your budget.