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Storage Cellars - In the Beginning...

Most of today's wines are ready for drinking immediately upon purchase. Yet, a high percentage of them will benefit from aging (sitting around un-opened) from 1-3 years -- sometimes more. The number of bottles you want keep on hand, and how long you intend to keep them, will probably determine the storage location. I suppose every wine "collector" would opt for his or her own wine cellar if the circumstances were right (money, space). But, short of that, your choices will likely come down to two choices: either keeping your wine at home, or renting a temperature-controlled space to store the bottles as they age, or a combination of the two. The rationale for keeping any wine at home is primarily a matter of convenience. Secondarily (sometimes primarily), you're able to look at it and handle it anytime -- immediate gratification -- a big deal among wine fans/fiends/geeks.

Assuming you've decided to keep some wines around the house, the next issue will be ...where? Wine doesn't like high temperatures or glaring light, so the kitchen is probably out. And, in most cases, the garage is also a poor choice. So, unless you construct your own cellar in a basement or garage, you'll be looking to take-over some of your living space. Usually by default, a coat closet or extra room in the house gets the nod. So, here's how I proceeded...

Racks and bins -

This was my original "cellar." I just took out the shelf, the supports, and the clothes hanging bar from the hall closet, and put in a pine modular rack (I'd seen an ad in the Wine Spectator back in '84 -- some fellow was making these in his garage). Each section consists of two racks -- 6 sections in all, so they can stack up as shown here, or 3-each side-by-side as in my current cellar. Then, I bought some 1x12s and set up the bins right next to it. The bin section had to be assembled in place, or there'd have been no way to get it in the door. After leveling both units with about a 1/2" elevation in the front, I secured everything to the back and/or side walls.

Starting the collection -

There's just no way around it -- you're going to have to make a large initial investment in wine that you will not drink right away. It's the only way to "build" a collection. Buy a few bottles at a time, or buy a lot at a time, but plan to spend at least $1,500 on wine that you won't be touching for a couple of years.

What wine to buy? Whatever you like! But, buy smart -- research everything that's available, then pick and choose. Attend tastings, ato broaden your own palate. As needed, seek advice from those more knowledgeable (merchants, other collectors). This is your only hope to keep from buying either too much or buying the wrong wines, or even worse, ending up with both! In compiling my collection, I read everything I could get my hands on, the Advocate, the Spectator, Hugh Johnson and other authors...anybody who had an opinion. Another thing I did was decide that I wanted a collection with breadth, even more than depth. That is, I preferred to buy 3 bottles each of 4 different wines, rather than 6 bottles of 2 different wines or a case of 1 wine. This was/is just my preference, but doing it this way will give you a more rounded collection, and will allow you to try many more wines.  

NEXT -> (wine closet #2 - bigger & better)

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Last Update 10.15.02