Drew recently wrote a piece on his wine library and it made me laugh when he wrote about ways in which to not store your wine, in particular the bit where he said “wine rack on top of your fridge near a light, is a bad place”. I remember laughing at that and then wondering if he was making fun of me. Drew and I have spoke about wine many times but I’m pretty sure I didn’t tell him about the time I managed to turn my collection of wine into vinegar… having said that, I think Drew and I spent more time ‘under the influence’ than sober last summer so I may well could have.
I used to live in a little studio apartment and didn’t have much space to put things, but in the kitchen section of the room there was space on top of my refrigerator for a small wine rack. I put my little Ikea wine rack on top of it, completely overlooking the fact that the lights to the kitchen were right on top of it.
I had just moved to France and was excited to start building up a collection so I went to a few higher end vintners and trade shows to get a selection of nice bottles to keep for a while. I had a few cheaper bottles that I had for every day drinking but after a few weeks I reached for one of my good ones. I can’t even remember what the bottle was, all I remember was sitting down on my mattress, put Netflix on, opened up the bottle, poured the glass, took a sniff and something didn’t quite seem right. It smelled a little musty, a little too acidic and just wasn’t what I intended. I thought to myself that it might just need to breathe so I poured a glass. Well yeah it had been turned. It was musty, yet vinegary, there was no flavor and it was just horrible. This was the case with six of my bottles, about €85 worth of wine down the drain, literally. I looked at my wine rack and only then it dawned on me that the light bulbs were boiling hot and had been emitting heat AND light onto my beloved bottles. I was so pissed off with myself.
After fridge-gate, I just started storing the wine in the little closet section of my room. It was so annoying but a valuable lesson. Basically, if you are going to start putting together a collection of wine and possibly age it all you need to do is put it in a cool, dark, place. There is a reason why a wine cellar is called a wine cellar, because wine collections are normally kept in basements/cellars/pantries. It’s because they are cold and dark! I have three wine racks for my collection. I have one in my pantry, the other in my dining room and one in my office (which is located in the attic of my house). My house is almost like the perfect place for storing wine. It’s old, made of stone and doesn’t let too much light in. In winter it gets cold but not too cold and in summer it gets warm. Right now, the perfect place for all the wine would actually be in the office but come summer I’ll be moving that rack into the pantry. The key is to keep all the bottles out of direct light.
You don’t need a fancy wine rack either. Drew keeps his in boxes; I used to keep mine in my wardrobe. Actually, I have kept my wine in numerous wardrobes. If you live in a shared house and don’t trust your housemates then that’s a good place or if you simply just don’t have another good place to store your wine then a wardrobe is a good shout. It’s dark and you can lay them on the floor, on the shelves or in the drawers.
To be honest, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I started getting too pent up on having a collection and to be honest, my stocks have depleted severely since the summer. At one point I had nearly 100 bottles, now it’s down to approximately 35. There’s a bunch of those bottles that have sentimental value so won’t be drunk for a long time, but others that I crack open whenever I feel thirsty or have a bad day.
Essentially though, I’m not pressuring myself to build a collection as big as it got this summer again because… it’s expensive! I wrote in a recent post about the fact that life gets in the way and sometimes bills/car insurance have to take precedent over buying a nice bottle of Cote De Bourg. You may also remember in that post that I said I was going to make more of an effort to find out great buys from supermarkets, well, the wine rack in my office is nothing but supermarket bought wine.
Expect some drunken reviews.
– J A M E S