How to Start a Wine Collection

By J. Sunhawk

Collecting wine was once the exclusive purview of well-appointed gentlemen with money to build exacting wine cellars, but that’s no longer so. With a modest amount of cash, attention to detail, knowledge, and an area to store the wine, anyone can try their hand at collecting.

Due to popular belief, a dark cellar isn’t needed, a cabinet or even a closet can serve as a suitable place to store fine wine. Whether for fun or profit, an investment in a suitable wine rack is a necessity because wine must age as intended.

Not all wine, is meant for aging. Good wines contain tannins, a natural preservative to make it mellow after a time and brings to the fore an elegant balance of flavor and bouquets. Thus, before purchasing bottles you need to know where the grapes were grown and how the wine was fermented and bottled. This is how a collector determines whether a wine is suitable for aging.

It’s also a good idea to buy various vintages such as the newer wines from Chile and Australia. A mix of fine wines from the Old World, including France and Italy, will give a collection the proper sophisticated and refined balance. Wines that age well include Barolo, Graves, Medo, Tuscans, Premium Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. This list is long, and each collector must find a favorite and buy accordingly.

Dessert wines not meant for storage should also grace the wine rack as well as the ready-to-drink fruity varieties. The proper wine collector never knows when unexpected guests might arrive and require a specific variety.

A good bottle of wine can be bought for about $25. The collection can be added to as disposable income allows. After one year, a collector can easily have two-dozen or more bottles in a collection.

Storage temperature is also very important to consider. The temperature range shouldn’t fluctuate more than one or two degrees. The ideal temperature for aging wine is 57 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too low, the process of maturation can be stunted. Too high of a temperature will cause premature aging. Wine doesn’t like ultraviolet light, so it must be stored away from sunlight. The ideal humidity is around 75 percent. Anything too much above or below can shrink the cork and allow air to seep in, mold might also form on the label.

Excessive movement must be avoided. Children, pets, air conditioners and heaters should be kept away from the collection, which can easily be worth thousands of dollars after just a few years.
Finally, catalog the wine. Collectors should know the wines’ provenance, purchase date, prime drinking date and expiration date. The value of wine decreases after its optimum drinking date expires.

Anyone can start a fine wine collection for under $100. The keys are to select well, provide a proper environment for aging and keep records to ensure that wines are used by the prime dates.