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

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