When it comes to starting a wine cellar it’s the “How-to-do-it question?” that we get a lot.
To be brutally honest it takes a lot of perseverance and plenty of self-restraint not to mention some hard-earned cash, but it’s doable, and not as expensive as you think. The goal of creating a cellar in the basement, or more likely in a wine cooler in a condominium, should be build a stash of wine that will taste better tomorrow, after aging, than it does today.
Buying young and drinking old will save you some money, but marking time in the bottle is essential to the development of fine wine. It’s the bottle ageing that transforms the harsher components of wine to give way to rounder, more complex flavours that are the hallmark of fine, old, mature wine. The long maturation period offers other possibilities as well. Many collectors now "put down" wines to mark special events such as a child's birthday or a wedding anniversary. Imagine celebrating your birthday every year with a wine as old as you are that you have owned for years. It’s a neat prospect.
Planning that far in advance means doing some research about the people and the wines they make. Before you know it, the culture, history, geology, and geography of the world's top wine regions will become part of you education and you will be hooked. Knowing what to buy is an ongoing project that requires regular maintenance. Today there is endless information online to guide you; certainly our site is a wealth of information with notes that often speak to a wine's ability to age. A good wine merchant would help as well.
In terms of cost, quality and quantity, keep in mind that you are not buying wine for next week. If the difference between a good wine and a great wine is only a few dollars, buy the better wine. Believe me - the few extra dollars will look like a bargain a decade from now. The amount you buy is really matter of budget, but three to six bottles of any one vintage of wine is sufficient to age, taste, track and trade along the way.
It is possible to cellar any kind of wine, but if it is not going to improve in bottle what's the point? In short, most red wines have what it takes to age, especially cabernet sauvignon, syrah and top-class pinot noir and red blends. A sprinkling of riesling, some chardonnay, champagne and port should round out the beginner’s cellar.
Finally pay attention to vintage and bottle age. The whole idea of a personal cellar is to give you the opportunity to drink older more mature wines. Get a jump start by laying down four or five-year-old wines leaving, you half way to the magic ten-year mark, when serious wine starts to show its stuff.
To show you how easy it is to get started we spent some time scouring our notes to come up with a Top Ten wines to finally start that cellar and they are cheaper than you might think. That’s 10 x 3 (30 bottles); total cost: just under $1750.00 and your cellar is underway. From here you can add wines to replace what you are drinking and eventually build a 150 to 300 bottle cellar of mature wine to enjoy your whole life.