Tips on Starting Your Own Wine Collection

Oh, sure. You're of modest means and here I go suggesting you build an expensive wine cellar and collect hundreds of bottles of expensive wines. If you're thinking I am suggesting that, you can chill out like a cool bottle of white, right now.

Having a wine collection doesn't mean you have to invest in an elaborate cellar, unless you intend to start collecting Chateau Lafite Rothschild or Penfolds Grange you'll age for decades. While you can do that, I suggest a humbler approach.

A wine collection can be a small number of bottles, say 20 to 50 or less. It doesn't have to be a huge number of bottles, although I warn you: once you start to collect a few bottles, your wine hoard will grow over time, no doubt. Nor does your wine stash have to be of outrageously-expensive collectibles, great quality Australian wines in particular, are often not overly expensive.

As for building an elaborate cellar, that's not necessary and might not be that expensive, even if you elected to create one. For most folks, a cool, dark spot in the home or basement will do fine. Even a small space in a closet that stays dark and cool, if you don't have a basement, can work OK for a small assortment of wines. Good quality wine fridges like those from the Grand Cru range are an ideal alternative and recommended if you intend to build your collection quickly or live in a warmer climate with higher daytime temperatures.

However, let's back up a bit and explore several good reasons why you might want to begin creating a small, wine collection.

First, there are many wines that really require a bit of time, or even a long time, to show their best. Take Italy's Barolo's, for instance. Known as the King of Wines and the Wine of Kings, traditional-style Barolo’s usually won't be at their peak for 12 to 15 years or more. In fact, they're not ready to drink just a few years after the grape harvest and winemaking; they demand time to mature and come into their own. Even more modern-style Barolo's, drinkable much sooner, still benefit from a few years of maturing. Why?

As a wine ages, all its elements - its acidity, alcohol, fruit, and tannin - integrate and come together into a cohesive and delightful beverage of astonishing refinement and elegance.

This is true of both expensive wines, such as Barolo and expensive Bordeaux, as well as for the typical, and far more modest wines everyone usually purchases.

Think of it this way. Who hasn't experienced a wine poured into a glass that begins to taste better after a few minutes exposure to air? When a wine is in a bottle with a cork, it is undergoing that same transformation, but at a far, far slower pace over months or years, since the cork only allows a minute fraction of air into the bottle. Over time, the wine matures and develops into a work of liquid art.

From my experience, despite that fact that wine sellers tell you "drink it now ... and come buy another bottle tomorrow," most wines benefit from a little bit of time, ranging from a few months to a few years, depending on how long the bottle has been sitting in the warehouse or retail store.

So, when collecting wines, here are a few key points to consider:

  • Buy wines with a story that captures your imagination.
  • Invest in wines of exquisite quality, not necessarily of exquisite price.
  • Invest in wines with limited production.
  • Only buy wines from winemakers and wineries with a good reputation.
  • Buy wines with a sense of place and regional provenance.

And finally, here are a few other things to keep in mind when building your collection:

  • Most importantly, buy what you enjoy and love!
  • Know your budget, you don’t have to spend a fortune to build a great collection.
  • Do some research to understand the market.
  • If possible buy direct from the wineries and look out for winery exclusive labels.
  • Only buy good vintages.
  • Continue to learn, the wine industry is constantly changing – and make sure you read more than one critic’s opinion!

Owning a small wine collection also enhances spontaneity. Having a romantic evening or having some friends unexpectedly stay for dinner, you can bring out a delicious wine or two, making it a perfect night. Enjoy.

When to Use a Wine Fridge

Wine fridges are excellent storage choices for collectors who have a small number of wines that are ready to drink. Wine fridges keep wine bottles at their perfect serving or storage temperature in a humidity-controlled environment. When you invest in a dual zone fridge, you can keep some of your bottles at serving temperature, (check out my recent blog for more on this topic) and store the rest at 14°C. You can even separate your red and white wines.

At Grand Cru Wine Fridges, we are the wine fridge experts and can provide you with state of the art wine fridges to store your wine and champagne at the perfect cellaring and serving temperature all year round.