As any aspiring wine snob knows, starting to collect your own wine store at home can be a daunting prospect. There’s the wine, to star, but then there’s all the storage techniques, tools, and accessories to learn. If you don’t get it right, you risk ruining bottles of the nicest vintages.
We’ve all been there, and in this blog post, we’re going to help all you new wine collectors to get on your feet and running confidently.
Let’s run through all the key elements of a good wine store, and the role they each play in keeping your operation smooth.
The first thing to sort out is how you’ll be storing wines.
If you’re dealing with vintages that need some time on the rack (and most of us will be for most of our bottles), you’ll have to acquire a wall rack. The bigger the better, since your collection will only grow over time, and you never want to be limited by your rack space. Buy the largest rack you can fit, depending on your space. The best places to install them tend to be cellars, attics, and entryways, anywhere dim and cool on a consistent basis.
For the bottles that require cooler climes, or for the vittles most ready to be drunk, you shall require a wine cooler. Much different than a fridge, to be sure, a wine cooler will help you keep your clinkers at a precise temperature. We humbly suggest that you invest in a dual-compartment cooler in order to adequately treat both your whites and reds with equal and appropriate care.
Now you’re really ready to acquire some wines. Huzzah! Before you bring any bottle into storage, you should know it inside and out. Learn all about its character, terroir, and vintage. Know the grapes inside it, know what sort of temperature it will prefer.
The key to all this expert knowledge is to have a reputable wine book on hand to consult whenever you come across something new. Our favorite remains “Wine” by Hugh Johnson–something of a classic these days, but still unsurpassed in sheer breadth of scope and especially wit. Hugh will tell you all you need to know to keep your head under control, as it were!
Depending on the character and age of your bottles, you’ll need to keep them properly distributed between the cooler and the rack.
Aha! Now we have it: the serving of the wines!
Serving is a tricky beast to master. Wines are devilishly tricky to get to the glass without compromise, but here’s where your accessories come to hand.
First, you shall require a decanter: crystal, and only crystal, will do for decanting your wines. Remember that your decanter is the mouthpiece of all your wines, the veritable font from which they shall issue to the glasses of your guests. It must be stunning without being pompous. Choose it wisely, and decant all your bottles before serving!
To get the wine from the bottle to the decanter, one must have an easy, elegant, and ergonomic bottle opener. A true connoisseur would never stoop to using an electric de-corker, but neither would they be seen tugging and shaking a bottle willy-nilly. Opt for something simple but sturdy, with lots of torque. Stainless steel makes for an elegant, long-lasting tool.
As you will learn as you delve into wine lore, each variety is best served in a specific design of glassware. That’s why you shall need a range of glasses: something for your chianti, something else for your merlot.
When the evening is over, be sure to have a good wine-saver to preserve the rest of the bottle for the next. Wine-savers are much better than re-corking the bottle, and they look a good deal more elegant. Corks tend to disintegrate steadily after the first pull, and they’ll never be quite airtight again.
Voila! There you have it. Come and crush a cup of wine, as Shakespeare might say! If you’re more of a beer guy than a wine guy, you’ll take interest in the best beer fridge models.