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3 things you have learnt from buying from the Society?

Thank you Kelly. I’ve been a WS member for many years now but this whisky project has to be one of the best initiatives that you guys and girls have launched. This has given a lot of people a chance to try something (a 30 year old single malt) that would be out of reach (price-wise) for many people (myself included I have to say, particularly if my better half found out!).

I have only just joined this community forum and it made me wonder if I could come up with perhaps three personal things that I have learnt from nearly 20 years of buying from the Society (as well as the other 25 before I saw the light!). I’m not trying to teach anyone to suck eggs btw and perhaps these will be more helpful for those at the beginning of the wine journey.

  1. Buy one bottle at £10 rather than two for a fiver each. It is scary how little you are paying for the liquid in the bottle at the lower price points. Various guides can be found on the internet but Decanter estimates that its 31p for the bottle at £5 and £2.70 for the one at £10. That’s nearly 9 times better value! I rest my case.

  2. Serve wine at the correct temperature. Download a guide of recommended serving temperatures as this (in my opinion only of course) makes the greatest difference to the experience. I have lost count of how many reds I have been served at a ‘room temperature’ of 24 degrees and a ‘fridge temperature’ of 3 degrees! A handy hint that I was told if you can’t check the bottle, take whites out of the fridge 20 mins before you serve them and put reds in the fridge for 20 mins before opening. It works for me!

  3. If you have appropriate storage, the Wine Society’s own label champagne (Gratien of course) is magnificent after 12 to 18 months of extra cellar time. It does require some forward planning (and to keep your hands off them whilst waiting!) but you will be amply rewarded. It works for most other NV labels as well, Bolly being particularly suited to this treatment for my tastes.

Now that I have started this, I’ve realised I could come up with another dozen at least. Also perhaps it would make a thread on it’s own but over to you folks! what are your top three tips!


Fantastic idea for a discussion, thank you @Brentw1! I have moved your post to its own new topic, for other Community members to also discuss :smiley:


Not strictly learnt from buying from TWS but being a member of the community has damaging effects on your bank balance! :blush:


Not anymore! After 20 years of salting it all away, hopefully I can have the next 20 free!!

That is if my son and daughter don’t keep asking for freebies!


I couldn’t begin to enumerate all the stuff I’ve learned from the community.

Regarding my membership of TWS that’s a little harder and a bit vaguer.

  1. I have been to a couple of tutored tastings/masterclasses and have learned huge amounts from them. They are brilliant and after all this business is over I will be eagerly looking forward to booking some more. In the meantime the Zoom/webinar stuff has again taught me loads.
  2. There is a vast amount of data on the website which I am constantly referring to and from which I have again learnt a lot of stuff.
  3. I have learnt that there are some brilliant, if rather expensive wines out there, but there also some brilliant less expensive ones. Less complexity possibly but capable of giving a lot of pleasure. Pre TWS I have found most inexpensive wines to, frankly, taste inexpensive (if you get my drift).

That’s a well-stocked cellar

Loving the row / column tags - guess they’re pretty essential if you need something specific.

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Yes, the bin location system is essential as I would be in a right old mess without it. I use the CellarTracker app as that warns me if stuff is getting outside the drinking window and allows me to access reviews from other users. Really useful if you are contemplating opening that (priceless) last bottle of something magnificent.

I used the free version for quite a few years and found it really usable but now I pay a few pounds a year (it is voluntary and you can choose how much you pay) to unlock the features like auction prices, community value and the links to things like Wine-searcher. I also subscribe to Jancis Robinson and that links in as well for pro reviews.

I’m lucky to have the cellar. I think for most people, long-term storage at home is a big challenge. My advice for what it is worth is to try and choose somewhere that avoids big temperature swings and that is dark. Wine will keep quite satisfactorily at a reasonably constant higher temperature than the ‘ideal’ 10 degrees suggested by Hugh Johnson. A cupboard under the stairs (without a boiler!) or a wardrobe in a bedroom can be great places for those special bottles. A consistent 18 to 20 degrees is much better than somewhere that swings by 10 degrees fairly regularly. The higher temperature will cause faster aging and maybe a little less complexity, but hey, better that than weeping corks and oxidised wine.

The worst places? Some garages (noting the points made by people with suitable ones!) and outbuildings with no insulation or the kitchen (and especially the latter!).

All only in my opinion of course as perhaps (in moderation of course) the best storage place is in your tummy!


I live in the North East, the garage is cool ALL year round and holds the majority of what I stock at home. All the wine is stored behind metal shutters which also eliminate any light and keep the contents at a pretty constant temperature. I also store in 2 wine fridges ( one 156 bottle and one 12 bottle )and an outside wall cupboard for quicker access.


Great cellar. Love Sociando-Mallet. Served at my wedding.


Great cellar, but even in the temperate corner of Scotland here, a brick built garage is generally ok. I would say for well over half the year it’s 10c plus or minus a couple of degrees. Maybe the occasional warmer spell in summer, but I’m more worried about the very occasional prolonged sub zero in winter. Most of mine is in a large wine cabinet, but there’s always a case or two (or three or four!) outside it.


Fair comment both MarkC and Leah. I was particularly referring to the typical pre-fab, tin roofed affair that my brother-in-law thought was suitable for his collection (to his cost!).

It’s all down to each individual building and situation and I should have acknowledged that. Cupboards and shutters will really help as well, and leaving wine in cases stabilises the temperature swings in my experience. And then there is humidity of course (but we won’t go there today!). Fortunately wine is pretty robust stuff (Chateau Musar being in a world of its own when it comes to surviving abuse!) and will put up with a fair bit.

I stand by my comments regarding the kitchen however! Whoever thought of incorporating wine racks into a room that can be a blast furnace one minute and cold store overnight had some strange ideas.


Thought you might be thinking of an outside oven like that…I know that the old shipping containers we store machines in at cricket ground get very cold in winter and very hot in summer!

My garage is brick, with tiled roof, dark, humidity ok so works pretty well.

I agree with you about kitchens though! Last place I’d keep it.


I saw an article a while back (a few years ago) about the temperature that a shipping container reached inside with a consignment of wine from Australia, over 60 degrees on a quayside in the sun. Probably turned a very nice Shiraz into something similar to Madeira!

So frankly we are at the mercy of the supply-chain at times and the damage can be done before we even get our hands on it. I have noted over the years that the Wine Society deliveries are usually nice and cool when Daniel (our regular guy in one of those nice vans) turns up.

His visits are usually accompanied by a “What, more wine?” comment from Lady Brentw1!


Wow @Brentw1! I am seriously envious of that cellar. Not least for the contents, but also the beautiful arched ceiling. It looks like we have some shared tastes - I am jealously hoarding St Henri, Musar, Sylvain Pataille; to name but a few.

I’ve been a member for only ~15 years having joined at university. I’ve learnt the following, all of which may be unlearnt in the next 15!

  1. Value of the wine does go up with price, as @Brentw1 says; but you can still drink fantastic aged fine wines for little more than the price of supermarket plonk; all it takes is patience, storage, and serious abstention.
  2. When I look back to wines I bought when I joined, and the prices of EP offers back then, I wish I’d spent more on cases for laying down. The year after I joined there were cases of Premier Cru Burgundy going for £75! What I wouldn’t do to order off that pricelist instead of a modern one!
  3. TWS membership is a wonderful thing to be a part of. From seeing society boxes in people’s recycling when driving down a street and wondering what wonders they have been enjoying; hearing all the amazing and eclectic backgrounds of all the people on the community, and the weird and wonderful meals they have cooked and wines they have been squirrelling away.

Great wine NW3Andre and a very fitting occasion! Jean Gautreau knows how to make an old-style Bordeaux. It strips the enamel off your teeth initially but then most vintages evolve into absolute nectar after at least 10 years. I’m not a fan of the supposedly forward 2011, but that was a poor year for most left bankers.

The stand-out one for me at the moment is the 2001 Cuvee Jean Gautreau. As a reviewer on CellarTracker recently said “It’s like blowing raspberry smoke-rings”. What a great comment!


The transit van about to be reversed up to your garage door is not mine. :rofl:


Hi lorindavies and yes, we do seem to have some common passions.

The Penfolds collection in particular has got well over the top now with several years worth of Bin 28, 128, 150, 389, 407 and St Henri all fighting for space (and there is a very modest 3 bottles of RWT somewhere).

I’ll share two Penfolds tales with you if I may.

A few years ago, I opened a Penfolds Koonunga Hill Cab Sav/Shiraz for dinner with my daughter and her boyfriend. A reliable and good value wine at £7 to £9 ish. The following week I came home and she was cooking a lasagne, a lovely surprise. She said “I hope you don’t mind, but I got another bottle of that Penfolds and put some in the sauce”. There on the kitchen top was a half-empty bottle of Bin 389 (otherwise known as ‘Baby Grange’). I did the only thing that a Father can do in the circumstances…I got myself a glass. To this day, Bin 389 is known in our house as ‘Lasagne Wine’.

The second story concerns the missing year in my flight of St Henri. I had an unbroken collection from 2004 to the present release, but was missing the 2005. I was therefore rather chuffed to find a case listed on BBX (Berry Bros & Rudd’s marketplace) and had my bid accepted. The case duly arrived.

I was curious as to who the previous owner was so had a Google.

“Afternoon Moneypenny. Tea in half an hour please.”

Finally, a case of Premier Cru Burgundy for £75. Happy days indeed!


I have cctv & an alarm …Just saying :wink::joy:


Both marvelous tales!