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My "Wine Diary"

I have a feeling this has been covered before so if there is a link, please to post it. Anyway, I am trying to develop a system to keep track of the wines I have had, which I have liked, price, etc. I am hindered by a few factors. The first is I am not sure how to interpret labels. I will give a car analogy: Honda is the make, Accord is the model. So my bottle of wine I have in front of me here says "Le Grand Noir" and under that "(Black Sheep)" and then chardonnary-viognier. France and 2004 are also on there, but I understand those. So what is the "make" or brand, what is the "model"? Is there a general way to tell?
Also, any suggestions for a wine diary, either an outline on paper or one online?
I am sure I am embarassing myself with these questions, but I want to understand finally!

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  1. Alice,
    i know you said you understand the le grand noir and black sheep, but here is my attempt.

    american wines tend to classify wines by grapes, whereas the french classify wines by regions.

    the make: le grand noir. the black sheep is a logo of the wine.
    the US model: Chardonnay/Vigonier
    the Euro model: Languedoc-Roussillon (region in france)
    year: 2004

    i tend to use www.redteeth.com to check out and pick my next wines. they also have a cellar which is pretty cool, but i only have a few bottles stored. you can also write notes on the bottle and read a blog.

    1. Hi Alice:

      It all depends on what you want to use your diary for. Because ours is essentially a buying guide for ourselves, we just keep an ordinary spreadsheet that we created and we don't worry about little uncertainties. If we don't know what something on a label refers to, we just guess. The good thing is that, with the internet, it often doesn't matter because often a search engine (or the winery's website) can help you interpret what the parts signify and/or help you locate the bottle again if that's your interest.

      The beauty of an excel spreadsheet is that you can sort on multiple levels depending on what you're looking for. In our spreadsheet we have the following categories:

      "Brand" - this is our catch-all and our best guess at the company that "makes" the wine (produces, bottles, whatever), e.g. Jarvis.

      "Name" - the nickname given by the company to the particular wine - e.g., Lake William

      "Region" - that's where we'd put, say, South Africa if that's all we knew, or something more specific like Napa Valley or Stag's Leap if we knew that info

      "Varietal" - that's where we put the kind of grape or blend of grapes - sometimes have to research this online or make a best guess, but often that kind of info is on the label, e.g. 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.

      "Type" - we use this for Red, White, Rose, Dessert, Sparkling just for quick reference

      "Vintage" - Year on the bottle (if listed)

      and then we have our "rating," purchase price/volume, where and when we bought it and consumed it, tasting notes and other comments including food pairings, etc.

      Good luck & have fun!

      1. www.cellartracker.com

        Allows you to keep track of what you have and what you have drunk. I love it!

        1 Reply
        1. re: kenito799

          Cellartracker ROCKS. I use it to keep track of my inventory and notes, but there are plenty of people that use it just for notes.

        2. What kenito799 said. I love cellartracker and use it all the time.

          1. Well, as I have been drinking and trcking wine a lot longer than I have owned a computer, I have a notebook. (I am transferring to a wordPerfect table for sorting fun)

            For me, in your auto analogy, make is maker. It may be as simple as the big name on top - Chateau Margaux, or you may have to look at the small print to find out that Chateau Margo is made by Best Wines. 'Course, when you come to "model" or name of the wine. Chateau Margaux's flagship model is of course, Chateau Margaux.

            Then of course there are wines (fewer today, but still some) where the name is not the maker but the region. Maybe Tvon Mau sells a Bordeaux wine he calls "Bordeaux" so you call it Bordeaux.

            Wow, too late to make a long story short. yes, learn to read your labels. Some labels have very sparse info on them (look at many Burgundies); some have a wealth (see German wines).

            Record maker, name, region, vintage, general type (red, white, rose, sweet, dry, sparkling), grapes (if known) and really anything else known (price etc) The first five above are the most important, along with your notes. In my view type is more important than grape - 3 years down the road are you going to remember that Auxerois is red?

            1. My ‘wine diary’ is a blank sketch book where I actually peel off the wine labels and glue them into my book. Under each one I write where I bought it, for how much, and any notes I want to write. This is a really good system for me because my visual memory is better than trying to remember lists, so if I don’t have my sketch book with me I can still pick out something new.

              It is also fun to go back and look through all the labels, more so than going through a spreadsheet, but that is just my opinion.

              4 Replies
              1. re: kate.s

                I agree that it is fun to look at the labels. I don't keep them close by the notes, just have pages with 3 or 4 labels on them.

                That's one section of the loose-leaf notebook. Others are tasting notes, wines to try, wines to buy, retailers and wineries, and big list which I stopped adding to years ago. that section was to include all wines tasted, whether notes had been made or not.

                1. re: kate.s

                  Kate, how do you get the labels off the bottles? I used to do this, long ago, but the glue got too strong (or something). So now I save bottles of wine I really like, but I'm running out of room...


                  1. re: kate.s

                    stupid question: how do you get the labels off in one piece? I like the sketch book idea because then I can go by visuals rather than words.
                    Oops, I just saw that Anne already asked this question. Still wondering though.

                    1. re: AliceS

                      Most of the time I soak the label in hot water and then use a razor to slowly work it off.
                      Labels that are ‘plastic’ or have a shiny coating usually peel off easily or with just a little help of the razor. Labels that are just paper usually need a good soak, and starting on one side use the razor to SLOWLY scrape up the label little by little. It helps to put a towel under the bottle to hold it still. Just be careful not to let the label soak too long because some types of paper will just turn to mush. After you get the label off, let it dry really well before you glue it into a notebook/sketchbook.
                      I hope this helps.

                  2. http://store.winecellarsonline.com/la...

                    these might work, haven't tried them, 50 cents each for 100 isn't too bad I guess...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kenito799

                      I've used these (got them as a gift) and find them useful. You need to follow the instructions to the letter and peel slowly. The only part of the label removed is the very top layer so you must be very careful. There's no mess or fuss.

                      I cut the sheets to fit the label with enough overhang to fit in my little book (another gift). I also try to remove as much information from the back label as possible.