- Posted by Danielle Gillespie
I’ve been collecting wine for a long time…too many years to put into print, so let’s just suffice to say it’s been a long time. In fact, I started collecting shortly after I took my first job fresh out of college, when through some miracle of fate I was able to finagle a business trip to Europe.
The trip was perfectly timed in late spring and allowed me to piggyback a personal biking trip through the Loire Valley. At the time, I didn’t even know there was a “Loire Valley” and had never even sniffed French wine. Nevertheless, I spent an immensely enjoyable week learning all about French wine and fresh goat cheese. It was heavenly.
I returned from that trip with 18 bottles of wine in a carry on duffle bag (no wheels) and voilà, a collection …ahem…obsession… was born. The wine I bought on that trip traveled not only across the ocean but also with me to various abodes, stowed away on dark closet floors, having the very life beaten out of it with each passing day.
I was reminded of this story when a young chef/friend was recently at my house and I took him into my basement where we have a modest wine “cellar”. And by wine cellar, I mean a corner of our basement that we converted to wine storage by adding two walls and slapping up some cheap wine racks. A wine lover himself, he was surprised by our collection asking how we managed to accumulate the wine. My natural response was to simply explain that wine collecting is a certifiable illness, but one with which I am willing to live.
So, if you are interested in tapping your inner collector, here are a few tips that I learned along the way about building a wine cellar (in no particular order):
1) Every time you go to the wine store buy an extra bottle of wine. Yes, this will cost a little more money per trip but even 1 extra bottle each time will add up.
2) Look for deals or closeouts that will allow you to buy multiple bottles at a good price. You can jumpstart your collection by hitting a couple of deals.
3) Join a wine club that will ship 2 or more bottles per month. Drink one and save one.
4) Focus on red wines because they age better than whites or rosés. You should have some white and rosé wines in your collection but they should generally be consumed within a year. Many red wines can be aged for multiple years and will develop to their full potential with time.
5) Buy a wine fridge. They come in all sizes and price ranges. Better yet, ask your family to chip in and buy you one for a gift. Unless you have a cool, dark place in which to store your wine, it can be beaten to its death in your random abodes. Even if you do have a basement that is dark and cool, be wary of temperature fluctuations driven by seasonal changes or heating/cooling units located in the vicinity.
We bought our first fridge from Wine Enthusiast; it has a 50-bottle capacity and has saved more wine that I care to admit. It’s a great way to protect your investment.
6) Build a cellar. This can be as simple as adding a couple of walls in the corner of a basement or hiring a designer to install a full-blown, temperature-controlled shrine. (See picture above for full-blown shrine, credited to Joseph and Curtis Custom Wine Cellars on Houzz.)
7) Get some wine racks. If you are just starting out and looking for a reasonable solution, the STORViNO is a great product. It stacks, it’s modular, it’s made of recycled materials and can be used as a transportation vehicle. I recently purchased a bunch of these and am very happy with them.
8) Buy wine faster than you drink it! It’s challenging, I know, but worthwhile in the end.
9) Try new things and be willing to make a couple of mistakes. Once your collection starts to flourish, you will have plenty of backup wine to recover from a single, less-than-stellar selection.
10) Be patient. Building a solid collection takes time but it is a rewarding journey that has a satisfying payout.
I still have a bottle of wine, in my cellar, from that first trip to France. It is well beyond something that anyone would want to drink but I nonetheless keep it for the memory; I have had plenty of fun collecting and even more fun drinking.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a wine collection, give it a go…your worse case scenario is that you will have to drink more wine!