Wednesday, April 5, 2017

To Cellar, or Not To Cellar in Uncertain Times

Our senses have been bombarded lately with all the news hype surrounding Brexit, President Trump, and the plethora of natural disasters plaguing the globe. And don't forget the media trend of apocalyptic TV series like The Walking Dead to add to the atmosphere of doom and gloom. If you are like me, you've chosen to "turn off" in a digital sense and focus your energy on reading, studying, or hobbies. A lot of my wine studies this year have drawn me to issues related to wine cellaring.

I currently own a 100 bottle cellar with wines ranging in value from $35 through to over $1,000. Granted, my cellar is only composed of 3 wooden racks that hold 75 bottles each enclosed in a concrete room; nothing fancy like what you see in Wine Spectator every month. However, the cellar means more to me than just bottles in a concrete room. Many of the bottles enclosed have memories attached to them. The Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas wines were purchased on our trip to France in 2011. My Krug Clos du Mesnil Champagne tells the story of my oldest daughter's birth and my triumph over those crazy, foggy first weeks of motherhood. The problem lies in when to consume these wines-and in today's tumultuous times, should I even bother with a cellar?

My wine cellar. It's not pretty, but it's functional-and doesn't allow for aliens or zombies to get in easily!
Many factors come into play when maintaining a wine cellar. Questions to ask yourself include:

"How many bottles can I manage?"
"Am I cellaring bottles for financial gain, or for personal pleasure?"
"What methods and resources do I use to track their development?"
"Am I comfortable with the risk associated with my bottles' values?"

What about a contingency plan? Zombie-apocalypses and President Trump's initiatives aside, other risk factors include household fires, floods, and other acts of God. Are you prepared to forego tasting your viticultural treasures if any of the above happen, even if you insure your bottles?

In the event of a slower catastrophe like Zombies or a plague, my contingency plan is to lock myself in the cellar, drink as many of the wines as I can from most treasured to least, and let nature take it's toll. I'm still working on a plan for the quicker-moving events.

Many wine blogs and publications discuss drinking those treasured bottles now, foregoing special events to ensure you get to enjoy them now. It's an interesting concept; on one hand, you will definitely enjoy them and the risk of the wine going past it's prime is reduced. On the other hand, how much will you enjoy that phenomenal bottle on a weeknight, or another time where you might be more rushed? In my opinion it's worth exploring, especially when sampling a wine where more of the same bottles exist in the cellar; however, I still prefer a special occasion to crack open those one-off bottles so I can really indulge in the experience.

Even though none of us know what's going to happen next, I do know that I want to enjoy these bottles while I can and relive the joy and memories these wines have brought me. No matter what your wine cellar goals are, may yours bring you joy now, and in the time to come.


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