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Dinking the wine in your collection ?

I am just curious. I am not a collector, though I certainely appreciate those who do.When do you open that bottle you have kept in your cellar for years.Or do you just leave it alone?

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  1. Wine is meant to be drunk. I collect wine because I like to collect things, but it is an evolving collection. One normally cellars wine because they want to be able to drink it when it is properly aged. It is also nice to be able to watch a wine evolve by drinking it over the the years (which is why I tend to buy wine by the half case or case)

    I also like to share wine with my friends. So when the occasion arises, and I have the opportunity to drink that special bottle with folks who will appreciate it, I tend to open it. There are a couple of bottles in the collection that I've had for many, many years and still haven't opened, but they are wines that can age for 40 years so they will be drunk eventually.

    I guess the answer is two fold. You drink wines as they age to appreciate their evolution and you hold wines until you think they are at their optimal drinking window and enjoy them then.

    1. Why would you "leave it alone"?


      OK, quick background to my following comments: I am in my late 50s (59, to be exact), and this Thanksgiving will mark my 49th anniversary of my entry into the world of fine wines. I started regularly tasting, reading, and learning about wines at age 10 (1963), entered the wine trade at 16, and by 18, I was buying wine for a 6-store retail "chain" known as "fine wine stores" in the day everyone else had "liquor stores." I worked in the wine trade from 1969-2002

      So I am -- if nothing else -- a curmudgeon when it comes to fine wine.

      As dinwiddie has said, "Wine is meant to be drunk."

      Although the size of my wine cellar has diminished since I left the wine trade, I still have some 40-50 cases. But I do not collect wine, nor do I "flip" it -- buy wine with the specific intention of selling it later on, or buying (for example) a case of highly sought-after "cult" wine, selling half the case for more than I paid for the whole thing, and relishing in my good fortune. (NOTE: I am *not* saying dinwiddie does this, nor am I criticizing him or anyone else who may do this; I used to really resent it, but -- like Parker -- it's become a fact of life and/or a force of nature.)

      I am pointedly not a "collector" but rather a drinker. I only buy what I am interested in drinking personally, This means, for example, I have lots of wines from Portugal and Spain in my cellar, but I can count the number of Australian wines in my cellar on one hand. Nothing wrong with Australian wines in the abstract, but they are not -- to overly generalize here -- to my taste, and thus have no place in my personal cellar.

      Most of the wines in my cellar are comprised of bottles purchased years ago and are now quietly, slowly evolving towards maturity. Some are younger bottles that won't be ready to drink for years to come. Perhaps ten percent or so are wines purchased for near-term consumption -- from today, over the next three-to-five years or so. (Think wines like Muscadet, Txakoli, Beaujolais-Villages, Côtes-du-Rhône, some Champagnes.)

      But leave them alone? Good lord, why???

      1 Reply
      1. re: zin1953

        Thanks zin, I'm the same age as you but have not been "into wine" quite as long. My first introduction to fine wine was when I was studying in Europe when I was 19. And no, I don't flip wines (NOTE: I know that you did not say that I did) but like you have come to terms with those who do so on a regular basis. (I have on very rare occasions sold some wines from my cellar to folks who wanted them but normally this type of transaction more usually takes the form of a trade of wine for wine.)

        My cellar is fairly newish because for many years I drank it as fast as I bought it, but over the last 15 years of so I've been buying with an eye to aging wine rather than near term consumption. Besides there is plenty that is nearing peak now to drink. (And as my son notes, when I die, its his.)

        To the extent I'm a collector it is because I like to try to find small production wines at a relatively modest price (under $100, preferably under $60) that I can cellar for a while and share with my fellow wine nuts that is not something I'm going to be able to find on any decent wine list. Anyone can buy Opus One, or Insignia, Solaia, or even classified Bordeaux if they want to spend the money, and occasionally I do too, but for me the fun is buying something they only made a little of, especially if I can visit the winemaker to discover it, and drinking it with friends and family. I don't try to develop a "collection" so much as buy wine from both wineries I've established a relationship with and ones I discover as I visit new ones during my annual vacation that my wife allows me to make wine centric for three or four days.

        Since I tend to buy more US wines than anything else (and have more Pinot Noir than anything else because my wife loves it) most of it is going to be drunk within 10 years or so of purchase, with a few bottles from each case of Cabs or Syrah probably being stashed to see how it fares 15 to 20 years in the future.

        Of course, I might have to stop collecting and start drinking more, after all I can't live forever and who wants the kid to get it (he prefers craft beers for goodness sake.)

      2. I tend to think of my wine cellar as a flower garden. I provide just the right conditions for my seedlings to grow and mature. I want to pick those flowers while in bloom or about to bloom. Much better to pick early than too late when the bloom is off the rose, so to speak.

        That said, I have a lot of older wine from my children's birth years (95 & 97) that I am holding on to for sentimental reasons. I originally had this notion that they would make great presents for their future milestones. Now I realize that some of the 95s may already be past their prime. It may be time to start opening even though my kids are still too young to drink legally. They always have a sip of any nice wines I open, but still have yet to develop a true appreciation of wine. I'm having to re-evaluate my original plan, and being the selfish parent that I am, I'm starting to think along the lines of their loss, my gain.

        1. Once, I waited for "special occasions," but then, as I aged, I threw that by the way-side.

          Now, I drink whatever is in my cellar, and do not invest in Bdx. futures, nor do I invest in Vintage Port. I will not live long enough to do them justice.

          I just drink.


          2 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt

            I was employed for 7 years by a wealthy Texan, who took me under his wing and had homes around the world, and aircraft. He visited a small vineyard in France with one of his colleagues, and they were impressed and bought all of that years' production, about 4000 bottles, so "A' had 2000. He had converted his bomb shelter from the 60's into a wine cellar at one of his homes, pretty cool place. At a happy hour at that house, he fessed up to me and others that white wine gave him indigestion, and queried to me what should he do, obviously not expecting a worthwhile answer from me. I replied that he should drink one bottle a day and the problem would go away in almost 7 years. He hired me for acumen, and he saw little humor in my answer. But his colleague howled with laughter.

            1. re: Veggo


              Nice work, if you can get it.

              I probably do 60:40 white to red, but have been known to reverse that ratio. It just depends.

              Should your benefactor need someone to "spare" him of, say Montrachets, the I raise my hand. He does not even to send one of his planes, as I can find my own way, to most places on the globe.

              I mean that this poor fellow should NOT be subjected to GI distress, just because of fine white wines. I stand ready, and will even bring the cigars!

              Such a nice guy,


          2. I am reminded of the great quote by Sir Henry Rawlinson

            "If I had all the money I have spent on drink... I'd spend it on drink."

            1 Reply
            1. re: Tripeler

              Yeah, that sounds about right!


            2. Tend to open it for the right situation. Aging carries on, and usually there is a somewhat broad window for it to be at its best, find the right people who are interested and that is the time.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                I used to do similar. Then, one day I woke up, and realized that much in my cellar, should be consumed, well after my death. Many Bdx, and many Vintage Ports, plus some really good Pinot Noirs, from Burgundy.

                I have missed my "window," but life has been good. At least my young wife appreciates the VP's young, like her.

                I seldom buy wines, now, that will require years in my cellar. I have no one, to whom I can leave those wines, so I now drink them, and smile.

                So long as I smile, and enjoy, then that is the best that I can do.


                PS - sorry that we missed in Paris. My bad, and I am so sorry.

              2. If you're asking when a wine is ready to drink, there are couple of easy resources for that.

                One I often rely upon is Cellar Tracker -- cellartracker.com. At the website, you can enter the wine and vintage year in the search window and read what others have written about it. The comments, especially the most recent ones, will tell you if the wine has hit its perfect drinking window (not too young, not too old).

                You can also call the winery. They'll always know.

                The amount of time a wine needs to be at its best depends on the varietal, the type and amount of oak treatment, the vintage year, how it was made and how it is stored. There's no hard and fast rule, just general guidelines.

                6 Replies
                1. re: maria lorraine

                  Thanks for the post's.Seems the best time to open that bottle is when you decide it's time.

                  1. re: maria lorraine


                    I envy you your youth. Tracking my cellar has become a "side line," as I have aged to a certain point. Many wines will NEVER achieve their potential. I will not live that long. I have no one, to whom the cellar should go, so I am drinking like a "sailor on shore leave," to empty the 9K bottles, before I pass on to that great vineyard in the sky.


                    1. re: Bill Hunt


                      Times are tough when one of your missions in life is to have to "plow" thru such a measly cellar. I'm sure you'll have a worthwhile individual or few to pass it on to, or a suitable charity. Hopefully, it's just a handful of cases that are left for them!

                      BTW, if you're in need of a suggestion of a worthwhile charity, I'm founder & CEO of the "Eugene Fund". Not to be confused with George Costanza's Human Fund......... ;-)



                      1. re: Eugene Park


                        We do "try" to consume, and also I have three charities, that I often support with some wines (the ones that I just cannot get around to drinking).

                        For me, that is fun too, and at some of the charity events, I "hawk" the wines to the masses.

                        For some years, I did verticals of Insignia (a favorite wine of ours), but then after three years' lots sold for what I paid, over the years, I amended my selections, to fit "the room." Now, I do things a bit differently, but still donate (and drink, as quickly, as I can).

                        For me, the ultimate aspect of wine, good wine to great wine, is sharing. That can be directly, at home events, or vicariously, via auction lots. Still, I want all to enjoy, as I do.

                        My biggest charity is the Lou Grubb Friends Fore Golf, benefiting the Barrow Neurological Institute and St. Joseph's Hospital (both in Phoenix, AZ), and then Fight Night, which benefits the Muhammad Ali Parkinson's Foundation of St. Joseph's Hospital. I sit on the board of one, and am in the "Founder's Club" for the other. Both are great. I also donate my wines, and usually buy tables at some others, like the Dignity Healthcare East Valley Foundation, benefiting both Mercy Gilbert and Chandler Regional Hospital (both in Metro-Phoenix), along with the Diamondback's Charity Dinner on the Diamond event.

                        Now, and as I do have more wine, than I will likely drink, maybe the Eugene Fund is a viable organization, or maybe not... ? [Grin]

                        When I moved from Denver to Phoenix, I had a wine-shipping company box up nearly all of my cellar. Then, I hosted two big parties: one for my tennis club, and the other for my ski racing team. We drank, and drank, and then drank some more. Still, I had two cases, that had to be loaded up, to ship down, but at least we had wines to consume, until I got the cellar built, and the other wines out of storage. Hey, at least I, and my rowdy friends tried, as my young wife had already moved down, and was not in attendance.


                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                        Bill, I am always available to lighten your load and to provide tasting camaraderie.

                        You know how to find me.

                        Maria Lorraine

                        1. re: maria lorraine


                          The "camaraderie" is what it is all about, at least for me. Wine is ALWAYS better with good people - almost always better, than alone.

                          You know that you are always welcome, and I do need the help.

                          Since it has gotten a bit cooler in Phoenix, I think that it is time to drag a bunch of the cases from the floor of my cellar, and fill in the holes in the racking. Then, I hope to move the cases from my office, and my entryway, down to the cellar. Too much wine, and too little time. We need to get together, and drink some of that stuff, even if we do it, while a whole-house renovation is on-going.

                          Do you have my e-dress? As we are in San Francisco, at least 1x per mo. and often 3x per mo., we need to get together. Usually, we are only in the city, but really, really need to get up North, as it has been far, far too long. If not, let me know at hunt AT huntphoto DOT com.