Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Home Wine Cellar, Part 1

I was thinking the other day about how we transitioned from a few bottles to having a no kidding wine cellar that needs to be managed.

It was easy, because we really didn't think about it.

We used to have a few bottles, less than four, on hand to compliment dinner and share with friends. Mostly, I would have to stop on my way home to get wine to support our evening plans. Over time, we developed a true, but small wine cellar which can support almost any occasion at a moments notice. How did that happen? And why?

First and foremost, a couple of rules:

1. Never store wine in the kitchen!

2. If in doubt, see Rule 1.

Seriously, the kitchen is the worst place in the house to store wine unless it is in a climate controlled environment (I mean a wine fridge). The temperature swings from cooking to rest take a toll on wine. Many kitchens come complete with nice built in wine racks--but the life of wine is greatly shortened in the kitchen. 

My recommendation, find a 12 or 18 bottle wine rack and plan to use that to begin your wine collection.

What are the considerations for buying wine?

1. What do you like? Buy what you like first and foremost.

2. What does your spouse or significant other like? Gotta keep the rest of the house happy!

3. What do your friends like? You don't want to have to run out on a moments notice when friends drop by.

4. What is popular and in vogue? Popular wines are just that for a reason--try them and see if you like them. It is likely that someone who drops by will be impressed that you at least know what is in vogue in the wine world.

I recommend starting with about 12 to 18 bottles. In my experience, a 12 bottle case should consist of 8 whites and four reds. The whites should be muscat, rieslings, vioginier, and pinot gris/grigot. The reds should be merlots, pinot noirs, and maybe a syrah/shiraz. Don't forget a sparkling wine for special occasions.

Twelve bottles is a good start and will begin to provide some flexibility. 

Cost? Start modest. Find good tasting wines in the $10-$20 range to begin with. Yes, there are good wines for less than $10 and there are great wines for more than $20--but most people will be impressed with the bottles prices in the teens--so start there.

Next, I'll write about what to do when18 bottles on hand is just not enough.

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Wine Barrel Furniture

OK, maybe I've gone a bit too far. I've always wanted a wine barrel, although I could not figure out a good reason to buy one. Ideally, I wanted one full of wine to drink or blend into a future fine wine.

Wine barrels are big and bulky. What can you really do with a full sized wine barrel? Sitting it in the yard to watch it deteriorate from the weather does not seem a fitting end for such a well constructed item.

Enter the wine barrel table. We discovered the wine barrel table while at the Maryland Home and Garden Show during March. We ordered the table at the show and received a really good discount as compared with the stated price through Wine Enthusiast. Two months later, it was delivered, perfectly, as ordered. 

The table was constructed by Wine Barrel Designs from Elmer, New Jersey. They were great to work with and interactive on delivery day to minimize my time away from work. This table includes storage for 24 bottles of wine, four authentic wine barrel chairs, and a lazy susan on top. I envision many evenings sitting at the table and enjoying a glass of wine. They have other designs and options--but I always seem to need more places to store wine.

We have needed the perfect accessory for our wine room for some time. And that the chairs are made from wine barrel staves and have three legs so that they don't rock.

I am very impressed with the workmanship that Wine Barrel Designs took in creating the table and chairs. It looks exactly like we envisioned it would. I was told that this barrel was made of French Oak and I was impressed that the staves used to make the stools still smell like wine--authentic.

RECOMMENDATION: If you are looking for a unique piece of wine furniture, check out Wine Barrel Designs, you'll be happy you did. They delivered to the door, placed the wine barrel table where I wanted it and made sure I was happy with my purchase. 

So the next wine barrel I buy will be full of wine!

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mindless Wine Snobbery

I was involved in a discussion about wine and people's tastes the other day when one person commented that their palate had not yet developed, but they had just graduated from Moscato to Pinot Grigio. 

I thought for a moment about the statement and then realized that the whole concept of developing a palate and graduating from sweet wines to dry wines is totally wrong! Yup, there, I said it!

The are an almost uncountable number of wines produced throughout the world and I am sure that there are more than one wine  for every palate. People need to find the wine that they enjoy and drink it. It would be good for them to expand their tastes as they feel moved, but the idea that one is not a true wine drinker until they are enjoying a wine that is so dry you need a glass of water after drinking it is wrong. It is the original form of wine snobbery.

Yes, I enjoy dark, earthy, dry wines that smell of smoke and graphite and sit in my mouth and beg to be paired with a rare steak.

But, I also enjoy whites, like Cayuga and lighter reds, like Pinot Noir. I enjoy finding wines made from grapes I've never tried before and trying to decide what is unique about the wine.

That is me. Not everyone. 

Wine is and should be an individual endeavor. While it is fun to enjoy wines with friends who have similar tastes, fundamentally, people need to enjoy the wines they are drinking--no matter what kind. And the idea that you are less of a wine lover if you don't drink dark, brooding reds is just, in a word, wrong!

Enjoy the wine you drink and drink the wines you enjoy. 

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD