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Jan 4, 2008 06:38 AM

What's the best way to keep track of all this wine?

So, we expanded the cellar, found we had empty slots/bins (Mr CF nearly fainted) and had to run out to fill them.

How does everyone keep track of this? I've got a spreadsheet - currently in shambles after the Great Cellar Project - and while I think it's pretty good, I'm curious to know if there's a better way.

I also just started using Cellar Tracker, but so far the biggest benefit to it is that I can find wines on there that I can't on Wine Spectator. Eric (CT guru) did use my old spreadsheet and bless him, he also located all the wines.

Now I'm going back and forth between the spreadsheet and Cellar Tracker for inventory. I can take my cell phone and it's marvelous web access anywhere, but it's not optimal since it's small and has a teeny screen. I think I need both.

Any thoughts?


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  1. I have been using cellartracker for tracking wine inventory and love it. It pretty much functions as a spreadsheet and I'm not sure what you'd have in your spreadsheet that you don't (or couldn't) get on cellartracker. I started with a very manageable number of bottles (about 100, now roughly doubled) but there's a bulk import tool where you can dump a spreadsheet into CT.

    In addition to basic inventory tracking, you can also dump purchase date and price information into it, consumption notes, you can copy over professional reviews into a "private" area without violating copyright, you can put in drinking windows, and you can then generate any number of different reports including inventory by region, by vintage, purchase and consumption history, etc. I'm sure there's much more that I don't even use.

    No, this is not a paid advertisement - I just have found CT to be a great tool.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor

      I do like CT - I'm just having trouble figuring out which is better - or more efficent to use.

      I would like to figure out how to find someone on CT who has similar tastes so I could read their tasting notes and learn how to explain what I'm tasting, and whether or not I might like to purchase a wine that's new to me.

      My spreadsheet has the name, the location (row & bin), year, rating (WS, ST & CT), price and the drinking window.

      I tried printing my CT inventory and it doesn't show all the same information - just the location, name and year. If I had a computer, in the cellar and in the kitchen, CT would work all the time.

      I'm thinking I may be too hyper and making a mountain out of a mole hill

      Thanks Frodnesor

      edit - maybe I'll just get a new computer - it would be easier to have everything on one and much less time consuming.

      1. re: Cookiefiend

        When you do the "print a wine list" function in CT, you get several options, which include showing inventory location & bin, showing ratings, showing prices, and showing drinking window.

        As for using the tasting notes, you've spotlighted the issue - you need to find someone whose tastes or notes make sense to you. Depending on what someone's privacy settings are, you can typically check someone's other notes (and sometimes their wine holdings) to do this.

        1. re: Frodnesor


          well - I suppose it will only take a little while to go through almost 48,000 cellars...

          1. re: Cookiefiend

            Hi Frodnesor ~

            I just found the 'print a wine list' and checked out the options - which is cool - but when I printed it, none of the 'professional' tasting notes I've input showed up.

            I will post it on Cellar Tracker's forum to see if I can find an answer too - but you seem well educated regarding CT.

            Thanks again for all your help.

            edit - jeez... I guess it would help if I had asked a question - this is what happens when I get in a hurry. Anyway, I was trying to ask if you knew if the tasting notes can be on the spreadsheet. I've signed up to get on the CT forum but so far I can't post the question. Blarg!

            1. re: Cookiefiend

              I can get the professional scores (points) to print on the wine list and my own personal tasting notes, but not the professional reviews. Perhaps not available due to copyright issues.

              1. re: Frodnesor

                I think you're right.

                At least it's not just me goofing up somehow :-)

    2. Up until recently I did the same as you - an actual physical spreadsheet where I tried to keep everything straight. As you mentioned, there can be certain complications with this. After that I used microsoft excel to keep everything in order. This proved helpful, but didn't have the versatility I was looking for.

      Like the previous reply, I eventually ended up on cellar tracker. It is the only real tool I have discovered so far that can comprehensively handle this kind of data. I'm constantly keeping an eye out for similar stuff though.


      4 Replies
      1. re: ClassicWinesGuy

        I am using Excel and it works fairly well - we've got about 550 bottles and I don't want it to get away from me.

        But if I could have it all on one that would be so much better - and I think I could on CT.

        I think I'm going to have to get a new computer or two... and a wireless card for them.

        Are you Classicwiinesguy on CT? Have tasting notes? I'm learning about wines, currently on a Burgundy quest and OMG what a mess to figure out.

        1. re: Cookiefiend

          Actually I think that's a different classicwinesguy.

          1. re: ClassicWinesGuy

            there isn't a classicwinesguy on CT

            I've got a different screenname there too

          2. re: Cookiefiend

            Cellartracker adds a lot more than an excel spreadsheet...searches, tasting notes, valuations, sortability by various dbase elements. Give it a try.

        2. I, too, am a fan of CellarTracker. I've been using it for a little over a year now. I think you'll find that the more you use it, the more you'll like it and the more features you'll find in it. Eric has added additional functionality to the program over the last year, and I suspect he'll keep it up. If there's something missing that you want to have, you might try asking for it to be added, or ask in the forum there for directions on how to do it.

          I try not to take the reviews on CT too seriously. There are certain users that I recognize from anther wine forum I frequent, and I trust their opinions. I personally write very few tasting notes, mostly because I'm kind of new to paying attention to what I'm tasting, and because I just don't do the beautiful prosey sort of writing that good tasting notes seem to require. I will admit to occasionally buying new wines based on average CT user scores, though. I also carry a printed list of what's in my cellar whenever I go out wine hunting so I don't buy something I already have.

          5 Replies
          1. re: 2FlyingYorkies


            made me laugh!

            I, too, am not ready or capable of the beautiful prosey writing I see on Cellar Tracker, Wine Spectator or Burghound - let alone some of the writing I see in Chowhound. I'm at Blech and Yum so far in my tasting notes, if you see that, it could be me...

            I'm in the process of pasting the notes I have from Wine Spectator into Cellar Tracker. I'm hoping to get everything together - I guess if I keep plugging along, I'll get there.

            I have the spreadsheet in my Palm - it's a marvelous thing, but going between the spreadsheet and CT is a bit time consuming!

            Thanks for your input!

            1. re: Cookiefiend

              I always laugh at the CT tasting notes that go...."drank at bill and sylvia's garden party, everyone enjoyed it"

              who the hell are bill and sylvia?

              1. re: chrisinroch

                CT is fighting a constant battle of educating people on the difference between private notes ("drank this with Bob and Sue - passed out on their couch afterwards") and public tasting notes, and does make an effort to clean up the database:

            2. re: 2FlyingYorkies

              I LOVE cellartracker...and it has been getting better and better. In addition to keeping track of what i have, a huge advantage is that it keeps an eternal record of what I have ever tasted--sortable in hundreds of ways...

              I use the "private note" function to add all kinds of information, such as about the varietal, weblinks to the winery, tasting notes from other sources. CT functions as an amazing wine diary.

              1. re: kenito799

                The scope of my technical knowledge ends somewhere before the term "wiki" but they've added additional functionality recently that provides a semi-public place for these kind of links as well.

            3. How time consuming is it to enter inventory into CT. I'm at the point where my sanity(at least as it relates to wine buying and serving is concerned, the rest being past the point of no return) is in danger of slipping away. I have about 500 bottles in my cellar and regularly lose bottles until they are past their peak. However, the prospect of entering that much info together with tasting notes from my wine diaries seems quite daunting. can any of you CT users give me an idea about how gargantuan this task would be?

              4 Replies
              1. re: chazzerking

                CT is wonderful. Nothing else comes close.

                If you have an excel sheet or other db you may be able to import from it.

                If not, you will probably find the almost all, if not, all wines are already entered and all you need to do is select it and input your personal data - # of bottles, cost, etc. whatever time it takes is worth it.

                1. re: chazzerking

                  If you already have a spreadsheet I believe it's often possible to dump it. If not, and you're simply making an inventory, it's usually literally about a 15 second process to put in the name of the wine, select the correct vntage, and presto (CT maintains a pretty extensive database of wines and I've only had to create a wine "from scratch" perhaps a couple times). If you want to add purchase amount and date, just a few more seconds to fill in a couple boxes. Obviously re-typing notes from handwritten diaries would be a pretty laborious process though.

                  1. re: chazzerking

                    chazzerking ~

                    I emailed my spreadsheet to Eric and he put it in CT along with the information I had in it (price, ratings, drinking window) including the location in my cellar. It was great.

                    All I had to do was to "find and link" the wines to the wines in CT - my cellar is about 550 bottles with about 160 different wines... so it took me a about 4 - 5 hours (at the office.... shhh...), and since I am no computer whiz, I didn't think that was too bad. It was pretty easy.

                    After reading Frodnestor's note, I've cut and pasted the tasting notes I had into CT as well. I like that I can have private notes so that no ones sees any Yums or Yucks - about where I am in tasting notes.

                    So long story short - it's not bad at all!

                    Try it!

                    1. re: chazzerking

                      I'd say that you could get all of your wines entered over the course of a couple of days. It depends on how much other information you want to include - if you want to enter prices, where and when you bought it, professional reviews, your own drinking windows, what bin or shelf the wine is located on in your cellar, etc., it will take much longer. If you're just inputting the name of the wine and how many bottles you have, it will go pretty quickly. Like others have already said, most of the wines you own are probably already in the database. I've had to enter several of my own more obscure bottles into the database, but even doing that isn't very time consuming because you can copy another similar bottle, change out the data that differs, and you're done. I think you'll find that if you take the effort to put your inventory into CT, you'll be well rewarded.

                    2. BTW - I have read recently, it being an important issue down here in So. Cal. what with fires, etc., that some insurance companies will accept a CT list as proof of what wine you had as of a specific date.