Putting together and maintaining a wine collection can become a favorite pastime. It’s a natural idea if you love to cook or just like to eat a wide variety of dishes. It’s also the ultimate ace in the hole for someone who frequently hosts their friends.
What to Buy
Perhaps your first goal should be to focus on varieties. You start by buying quality wines and learn what you actually prefer. You can check wine store websites to find out if and when they offer tastings. This is a good way to discover wines that you might not have considered before.
Obviously, you can spend time researching different red and white wines on the internet, but that’s not the same as tasting them. Instead, you might spend that time looking at what chefs pair with wines. What wines are paired with the type of food you like to eat? Those are the ones you may want to stock up on.
While you may focus on higher quality wines, go ahead and stock up on some basics. These wines are good but not as expensive. Then you’ll be ready if guests arrive unexpectedly.
If you have a strong background in wine varieties, you can move on to learning about mature wines. These will have a different flavor profile and a much higher price. It becomes more important that your purchases not be experimental. If you are lucky, you’ll find a wine connoisseur at a store who can recommend mature wines. A wine specialty shop is your best bet rather than the corner liquor store.
Do’s and Don’ts of Storing Wine
If you want to maintain a collection, you’ll need a place to keep it. You can set up a wine rack almost anywhere, but you want to make sure it is in an area that will stay dry and relatively cool.
The wine should be protected from sunlight. Heat and light can change a wine’s chemical composition. This will alter the taste and make it go bad much more quickly. Likewise, you want to minimize movement. That’s why the top of a refrigerator isn’t the best place to keep a wine rack.
Most of today’s wines aren’t going to be aged long enough for this type of storage to matter. The main wines that need to be stored on their sides are mature wines. These contain sediments that could settle and change the wine’s composition. Keeping wine on its side helps ensure that the natural cork doesn’t dry out. Most wines today have an artificial cork.
Wine is best if stored at a consistent temperature. Ideally, that is between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s how wine cellars came to be important. However, most of us won’t have a cellar where our wine can be stored.
Finding the Right Space
You can create your own dark space that keeps out light and heat. It may require some type of temperature control. However, that’s a consideration only if your collection is very valuable or very big.
If you want to store wine in the kitchen, be very selective about where the bottles will be kept. You don’t want your bottles absorbing heat from the microwave, stove, or oven. A designated refrigerator sounds like a good idea, but most red wines aren’t chilled.
The dining room is another logical choice. An open rack should be for temporary use only. You’ll want the bottles to be inside a cabinet and away from any sunlight.
If you have a closet you can set aside, make sure that it is well insulated from any sources of heat or cold.
Once your wine collection starts growing, your knowledge of wine will be growing, too. This is one hobby that just gets better with time.