So, you have decided that you really need a home wine cellar. You’ve built or bought the exact cellar you need, temperature and humidity controlled, and it looks just great. The big question now is, how should you stock it?
First of all, the only rule is that there are no rules. Your wine cellar, like your refrigerator or your pantry, should reflect your tastes and those of your immediate family. So if you really don’t drink much white wine, then don’t fill your cellar with it just because you should.
You need to decide what your objectives are. Do you want to have wine for everyday drinking, which are ready now, or is the cellar designed for laying down vintages which will come into their own in the years to come? Are you buying for drinking, or investing? Chances are, it’s going to be the former rather than the latter. If you want to buy wine for investing, and you don’t really have the space or the expertise to keep them at home, there are specialist companies which will store such wine for you until you decide to sell it, or, should your ship come in in the meantime, drink it.
So, your small home cellar should reflect your short and medium term needs. Starting at the top, it’s good to have a few bottles of special wine on hand for celebrations and gifts. Of course, that means champagne, and if there is room, I would have at least half a dozen bottles of my favourite vintage.
Then a dozen bottles each of excellent vintages of my favorite red and white. In my case, this would be Edna Valley Chardonnay 2011, not a fancy or expensive wine, but it happens to be one which I really like, and Beckman Vineyards 2006 Estate Syrah, a really well priced vintage if you can find it. These are to be brought out on special occasions, and hopefully will age well – although remember, older is not necessarily better when it comes to wine, so, keep a record in your cellar book of “best before” dates.
Speaking of a cellar book, it’s a great idea to keep a record of what you have, when you bought it, when it should be drunk by, tasting notes and so on.
Buy three bottles of harder to find wines and save them up to drink in the future. I would have perhaps three to six sets of three, choosing wines which are well reviewed but which are recommended to be aged for a few years. Always buy three, because if you just buy one, you probably won’t ever want to open it! Trying these more off beat and esoteric wines is always a lot of fun, and will develop your understanding of wine as a hobby, as well as something to glug down and enjoy. Also bear in mind food pairings – if you are coming up to summer, think about wines that will go with salads, fish and barbecue. If winter is heading your way, then choose things which will go with the deep, savory, spicy flavors of cold weather food.
For everyday drinking, choose things that you drink regularly, and have a half dozen of each on hand, if you have room. If you can easily buy your favorite on your weekly shopping trip, it doesn’t make sense to keep too many in stock.
I would also keep a couple of bottles of sherry and port, which will benefit from the temperature and humidity control. Remember not to get fixed in your habits, but to use your wine cellar to expand your pallet and your knowledge – and of course, to store those great bargains which come along from time to time.
[Image Credit: Pascal Reusch]
Posted on April 9, 2015 in Wines and Us by Deanna Toribio