I have been thinking a lot about wine cellars and the folks who keep them. It seems there are 2 distinct styles of people.
On one hand you have the consumer. This person buys wine, mostly their personal favs, in bulk. They go for a better price by buying in volume, but need a proper place to store their liquid pleasures.
The closest this person comes to “collecting” is saving a few bottles from each year to construct “verticals”. A vertical is a multi-vintage collection of the same wine. Tasting a vertical allows you to judge the variations from vintage to vintage. It takes patience, but it is also a great experience.
The second kind of person who cellars wine is the “collector”. This person gets a lot of satisfaction from storing wine as if it were baseball cards or vintage Barbie Dolls. They seem to have forgotten that wine is alive, has a shelf life, and is constantly evolving in the bottle. For this person, wine is more of a liquid “asset” instead of an enjoyable, multi-dimensional beverage.
It pains me to think about all of the wine that has or is wasting away in the cellars of these collectors. Too many times I have gotten “the tour” of a cellar and watched as someone displayed their most prized labels. Why not drink the wine, take some tasting notes, and then re-cork the empty and put it back on the shelf?
One final thought on the collector. When they do open an aged wine they often find out they waited too long. This revelation is usually followed by a statement to help them rationalize their terrible error. Something like “the wine is so delicate now”. I hear that as, “the wine has no life left in it”!
Why you cellar wine is up to you and up for discussion, so I invite your comments here.
Until the next sip…