A Note on Collecting Wine

Let me begin by saying there are a lot of people who know a lot more than I do about the specific qualities of wine and spirits. I am coming at this post from a perspective of collecting as opposed to taste or personal preference. That being said…

I have seen and appraised incredible collections of wine. What I have noticed is that wine collectors can generally be lumped into two categories, what I like to call specialists and generalists. Specialists tend to collect mainly one specific varietal, blend or region, they can

have wines from outside their preference, but they tend to collect one thing and do a very good job of it. This makes sense, because to acquire the very best wines in the world takes money, patience and sometimes a bit of luck. To put together a good collection of Bordeaux or Burgundy first growths means you either win them at auction or are on an allotment list (you can buy them on the open market as well, but it tends to be much more expensive), the same goes for highly sought after wines from any region. The Generalists tend to buy really good wines from all over, offering a wide range of varietals and blends that make every evening an experiment. Most wine collectors I know focus on one or two things they really like and supplement it with interesting selections that buttress their collection. However you enjoy wine, always be open to investing in bottles that seem a bit out of your range, there is so much out there to taste, there is no need to get into a rut.

The main thing about collecting wines is proper storage. The first thing I do when I go into a cellar for an appraisal is set up a hygrometer and thermometer. During the course of the appraisal, I will record the temperature and humidity at regular intervals to assess the quality of storage. The most important thing one can do when starting a wine collection is to invest first in proper storage. There are loads of articles about the proper temperature and humidity, but the main thing is to make sure that it is consistent and that there is some sort of backup in case of a power outage. It is true that most wines “normal” people buy are made to drink well without elaborate storage, but the ability to buy a case of something you really like and save it for later is one of the pleasures of wine. One may also find that as their tastes evolve, the opportunity to have wines that benefit from an additional year or two in the bottle will come around. I have always found that it is better to have the ability to properly store wine when you need it as opposed to needing to scramble to find a way to store wine once you have it. The long and short is that you do not need a dedicated room for wine storage unless you have a large collection, but that there are incredibly diverse wine storage solutions ranging from 8 bottles to 100 bottles that are available without the need to retrofit a room.

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