How to collect wine like a pro (or just because you like it)

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One day, it becomes no longer enough for you to just drink wine and love it; now you want to know how to collect wine, to store wine, to BE the wine. Okay, maybe not BE the wine, but you may want to BE a wine collector. Our SelectWine.com experts are here for you.

To get started, follow these steps and you will soon be collecting wine like a pro.

Don’t rush - taste, study, then buy

One mistake new collectors often make is they start buying up copious amounts of wine based solely on high ratings. They want to be “official” wine collectors with an “official” wine collection. But what good does it do to fill your wine cellar with a bunch of expensive wine that tastes like a spit bucket blend to you? Instead, taste first, then buy. A wine’s big score usually guarantees its high quality, but does not guarantee that you will actually enjoy the wine.

There are countless wine varietals, vintages, and regions along with a constant stream of new winemakers creating their own unique blends. The best way to navigate this huge sea of wine is to start tasting. Learn what you like by tasting as many wines as possible (not all in one sitting, mind you!). To help get you started, we recommend visiting nearby wine tasting rooms and wine bars. These spots provide potential wine collectors with an opportunity to order a flight and sample several types of wine at once. Here, you can begin focusing upon what types of wine appeal to you.

Another way to taste a variety of wines is to join or start a tasting group with friends and/or professionals. This is a great way to try “alternative” offerings that you might normally bypass. SelectWine.com offers consultant services to help you plan and throw your own private wine tasting and food pairing events. Just give us a call and we will take it from there!

Also, actually read through restaurant wine lists; don’t just zero in on the usual suspects. A unique wine list will offer insight into what the chef or the restaurant’s sommelier prefers regarding menu pairing. They put a lot of thought and time into creating the perfect wine list for their particular style of cuisine. It could lead to the discovery of a wine you may not otherwise have encountered, or a region never before explored.

If you really want to step up your game, consider taking a wine class. Explore local wine event listings to learn about class offerings and wine pairing dinners and tastings in your area. The key is not to rush the process. Wine, after all, is about aging. Rushing and wine simply don’t mix.

Think about aging (you and your wine)

Once you have sampled an array of wines, you should have a pretty good idea of what you like. I can’t repeat this enough - TRUST YOUR PALATE. For instance, do you like aged wines or those that are good to drink now? There is no right or wrong answer. Your preference is the right answer for you, but it defines how you want to collect wine. It tells you how long you want to store your wines before you drink them. This, in turn, gives you a better idea of what you should be collecting.

That is also where your age comes into the picture. If you like young wines, your age is not much of a factor. Focus on gathering wines that drink well today. But, if you prefer wines that need much more time to develop, then your age does matter. A person over the age of 60 does not want to collect wines that take 30 years to develop. While that is a supreme demonstration of confidence in one’s longevity, it’s not the smartest wine collection move.

Consider your disposable income and the costs

A common myth is that wine collecting is reserved for the wealthy, but there are great wines at every price level. A great way to determine some possible cellar candidates is to take a peek at our easy-to-navigate wine categorizing system – Daily Sip, Weekly Savor, Monthly Splurge and Cellar Selection. With these simple guidance options, you will easily be directed to some prime juice that will add valid and valued candidates to your cellar. Sometimes, prices can be negotiated based upon quantity. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller or join a wine club; you could end up paying a lot less. In addition, look for seasonal discounts and consider buying in case volume.

Another idea to think about is wine futures. These give collectors the option of buying wines ahead of their release. You pay cash for a product you may not receive for two years. The upside is that buying futures allows you to get your hands on a potentially rare wine at a bargain value. The risk is that your purchased future may end up being a wine in which the vintage is not worth the price or the price falls lower than what you paid.

If you decide to buy futures, make sure the seller has a sound financial standing. Work only with reputable merchants who have a history of delivering the wine that their customers ordered in a timely manner.

As for your wine cellar, make sure you invest in a proper cooling system that guarantees that the wine will be protected from heat, light and vibration. The cellar must be kept at a constant temperature (55-58°F) with consistent humidity (68-70 percent). Extreme changes in temperature and humidity ruin even the best wine.

Ready, set, collect!

As you begin collecting, focus on known vintages from recent years. Also, look for lesser-known wines from great vintages. These wines, from a great vintage, can be as good as a more well-known brand at a fraction of the cost.

Most wines are meant to be enjoyed within one to five years. Wines that can age eight or more years include 1st through 5th growth Bordeaux, California Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo, Barbaresco, Amarone, Brunello, Super Tuscans, Rioja Riservas and Gran Riservas, Grand Cru and Premier Cru burgundy, and Vintage Port. Also, unbeknownst to many collectors, there are quite a few white wines that age very well. Among these are Grand Cru and Premier Cru burgundy, Champagne, Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, Ribolla Gialla and many dessert wines – Sauternes, Vin de Paille, BA (Beerenauslese) and TBA (Trockenbeerenauslese), and so much more. Find someone you can trust and comfortably talk to and you will be on your way to reaping the benefits of grand new discoveries. If you’ve found a wine source that you trust, be open to suggestions for alternate varietals or regions that mirror your current favorites. You never know what new stellar wine you will stumble across.

Finally, even the best of the best of wines cannot overcome bad storage. If purchasing from a private cellar or at auction, know where your wine is coming from before you add it to your collection. Make sure it was properly cellared and then packaged when it was shipped.

At SelectWine.com, we are happy to answer any questions or offer suggestions about how and what to collect based upon your style and varietal preferences. We offer the best prices and amazing shipping deals, so you can collect wine like a pro from the very first bottle.