Starting your own Collection
By: George Balling
Most all wine consumers that really enjoy wine reach a point where they prefer to have some of their favorite bottles around to choose from on any given night. Being under the gun to go out and find just the right bottle at the last minute is likely to result in any of us drinking a bottle that doesn’t quite measure up to our expectations. So, the question for those of us who are new to having a collection of wine to choose from is, where do we start?
My first suggestion is to be intentional about starting the collection you desire and put some serious thought into the construction. Questions like, am I putting this together just for me and my tastes or do I entertain frequently enough to add some bottles that my guests will enjoy? How much wine do I consume in a month? What are the appellations and varietals I would like to explore, that I don’t consume much of now? And perhaps the most important question, what is my budget for my typical bottle and for my special occasion bottle?
After you answer these questions for yourself as well as other important points you come up with, the next step is to find a wine professional you are comfortable working with. While you can buy most any wine on line, and there are plenty of “big box store” options this will not result in your best success for your collection. When you choose the wine shop you intend to work with plan on getting the lion’s share of your wine through them. This will allow them to get to know your palate preferences. The best will also have an automated record of all you have purchased and from there they can start to make notes of which are your current favorites and which wines you want to “reload” on a more frequent schedule.
Most of us have different price points we want to choose depending on the occasion and who we are enjoying the bottle of wine with. When you are working on acquiring the more expensive bottles that we intend to include in our collection it is again important to be working consistently with your chosen wine professional partner. You can make them aware that you are searching for some special bottles. From working in the business of wine here in the North Idaho market we know where to go to find the bottles you desire, and we regularly get offers from our talented local distributors about special offerings from wineries and also items that are being closed out at discounted prices. For instance, just last week we received notice of a “library offering” from the great classic Napa Valley Winery Dominus. While spendy by anyone’s standard the list included Dominus wines dating back to 1996! It was a great opportunity for several of our customers to add to their collections of this noteworthy producer.
This and other lists we have receive recently included large format options. This is another area that many of us overlook in our wine collections. If you ever entertain with larger groups of friends or family it is a great option to have some large format bottles to choose from that can really make an impression on your group. One of our traditions when we lived in Sonoma, was to have everyone sign the magnums or 3-liter bottles we opened and then display the empty autographed bottles with the rest of our collection. When friends and family members that had enjoyed the big bottles with us returned to our home it was a grand way to bring back the memories of those special nights and spark conversations about the wine and the gathering.
Another big part of gathering the collection you want to have is to taste a lot of wine. This will result in helping you identify the wines you want to try next and perhaps add multiple bottles to your collection.
When it comes to your budget remember that we all drink at different levels, you should never feel badly about giving your chosen wine professional very specific guidance about what you wish to spend for any bottle in your collection and the average price point you desire for your “cellar”. Finally, be careful not to overbuy any wine. Not all wines are age worthy and the most unfortunate out come is to end up having bottles go bad because they don’t age well and we don’t consumer them quickly enough.
Having a special collection of the wines we like to drink most is fun, and a great way to show appreciation to those we share wine with. All of us as wine professionals are happy to help you build the personal collection that is just right for you.