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How many is enough?


#1

There’s an interesting topic here discussing how many bottles people keep at home which made me think “how many is enough?”

I’m interested in what other community members strategy is for building a cellar. Do you buy to a set strategy? Do you acquire whatever comes along that looks interesting irrespective of need? Is it random impulse purchases? Do you build a stockpile when cash is available and then drink until it’s gone?

For what its worth my own strategy is split into two approaches. Firstly, to buy enough everyday wine to supply day to day drinking (typically 2-3 bottles a week). Then in addition I am mostly using EP and VCP purchases to add about 100 bottles per year, and this is aimed at building a cellar over a number of years that will ultimately replace the ~2 bottles per week of everyday drinking wine with wine of a higher quality/greater age. At steady state I would anticipate having a cellar of ~500 bottles.

How about you? Are you a collector, hoarder, drinker or all of the above!?


#2

Great topic and interesting as I’ve always wondered what constitutes a “collector” and am I one ?
I think my approach is somewhat similar to yours. There is wine which has been purchased purely as an investment in my future drinking. Some of which is in the wine cabinet and some either in reserves or EP. When placing an order with TWS, I will usually try to add in a “nicer, better” wine or two which is not intended for everyday drinking so am gradually building a “better” collection for special occasions etc… I purchase around 80% of wines from TWS .
When special or sought after wines become available through any of the outlets I use, I will try to purchase and keep for future consumption . So I guess like you, I am always looking to the future and how I purchase now will affect what I drink in 5 or even 15 years time :+1:.


#3

I think ‘collector’ is an investor who does not sell the wine… I buy 2 cases a year that I would put in this bucket, sadly I am gradually being priced out of new vintages of both (or not so sadly with an investor hat on).


#4

I am pretty sure I fall into the ‘drinker’ category, but I’m slowly but surely changing it. The majority of my purchases are intended for drinking in the short term, but I’m increasingly trying to include something for the longer term in each order. It’s still early days for me in terms of building a cellar - there are about 30 bottles in there at the moment, and the most I’ve got of a single wine is 3. 2019 might be the year when I start to buy cases of single wines, rather than buying in 1s and 2s (and the very occasional larger quantities - Weinert Cabernet, Burlotto Pelaverga, Sanzo Verdejo etc). It’s also the year when I’ll take my first EP deliveries. I’m expecting the cellar to have 60+ bottles in it by the end of next year.

Broadly speaking I’m following a similar approach to @Leah but she’s probably a few years ahead of me with her collection.

I don’t really have a target in mind in terms of a number for the collection. I think it’s more about achieving a goal - always having a bottle of wine that suits the occasion and is ready for drinking. Most of what’s in the cellar at the moment is Bordeaux, and is at least a couple of years short of being ready.


#5

I think I’d say I’m moving towards a similar approach. But as I’ve only just started buying EP I would say I have three approaches. For the longer term I’m buying EP, most of those will probably be a 7+ year wait, so for the medium term I’m buying wines that I can lay down for maybe 3-4 years, then for the short term I’m buying a mix of everyday and fine wines that can be drunk immediately. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now so I’m getting to the point where I shouldn’t need to do so much fine wine buying for immediate drinking (super special offers excepted) as my medium stuff comes on line.


#6

I am but a mere infant, watching the grownups around me do their thing.

My journey into Vinland has just begun, so I’m firmly in the ‘drinker’ territory. Whether I will ever graduate to ‘collector’ is still in doubt, mainly because other than planning travel years in advance, I can’t really see beyond a year or two ahead. So bar a few special bottles I’m hoping to hold on to for this mysterious future, most of my wine is for consuming in the here and now.

Having said that, I feel that I am still learning to identify what I like and don’t like, and so tend to buy individual bottles, rather than cases. But as I’m slowly building up a ‘map’ of the areas, producers and varietals I love, with time I will probably start investing more in cases. Time will tell!


#7

I would warn against buying for the future. I did to a limited extent, but found that my tastes changed, and didn’t evolve as I thought they would. So now I have quite a few more mature bottles that I am not really that keen on. Yes I could sell them and make a tidy profit, but I don’t really have enough to generate very much money. Now I buy for drinking in the next few years.


#8

I am definitely in the building a cellar phase, mostly concentrated on classic French regions of Bordeaux, Rhone and Burgundy. The aim is that in about 5yrs or so I will have a good variety of relatively mature wines from each of these regions that are ready to drink, with most of the ‘mass’ in my cellar currently starting with the 09 vintage. This is supported by ad hoc purchases from other areas and regions, whilst steadily continuing to build out the cellar with back vintages when interesting things appear, and continuing to buy EP for future drinking. Currently have around 220 bottles in reserves with drinking windows starting from the mid-2020s.

Like others, i’m not sure what the ideal number will be, although based on current trend would imagine something in the 350-500 range, with around 150 bottles at home and the rest maturing in storage.


#9

My strategy(?) is as follows
Immediate Drinking - led much more recently by community experience, previously helped by wines without fuss. Based on today’s delivery I’m pretty much an average spender by TWS standards.
Medium to long term collecting for future hedonism - a combined effort of the experts in TWS selections in a variety of Vintage Cellar plans and the fun of EP with the experience of the community.
Like @Alchemist, I’m trying (!) to set aside about 100 bottles a year (net) to achieve a similar stream of delights in about 7 years.


#10

I have probably done much of the build the cellar phase, and agree to some extent with @SteveSlatcher comment about thinking too far ahead, particularly buying by the case.

The move towards 6 and even 3 bottle cases is a help here, and L&W have moved further by allowing single bottle EP purchases which is quite useful if you want to sample a few wines from a region without committing your tastebuds or pocket too heavily.

The other thing is the balance between buying the better wines to lay down and everyday drinking wine. I tend to swing between the two…

I can see a case (no pun intended!) for building a decent stock now given the various uncertainties prevailing and the secular trend for better and scarcer wines to become more expensive. Rhone and Alsace look like areas that might be worth stocking up on, perhaps some Spanish too.

Back to the original question, it seems that quite a lot of people responding to the other thread have between 200-400 bottles or so which probably reflects a balance of accumulation/decumulation plus storage and financial constraints and costs. Beyond that, and collector/investor seems to be the more appropriate label…although I do have a habit of squirreling away a ‘last bottle’ from many cases just to see what it’s like in 10 or 20 years time…which does mean that you get a few ‘past it’ bottles as well as some pleasant surprises.


#11

Like most other folk we have both everyday drinking wines and special occasion wines either as individual purchases or EP. We bought our first EP from the 1989 and 1990 Bordeaux vintages. We continued in this vein until prices started to rocket in the mid 2000s. Our last serious Red Bordeaux EP buys were the 2003 and 2004 vintage, the latter being a case of Pavillon Rouge at a ludicrously cheap price as 2004 was deemed a poor vintage between 03 and 05. Drinking nicely now though so happy days!

Now we have changed tack, and if we buy EP we look to other areas, and buy in packs of six not 12. So our special occasion wines are a better mix of regions now.

Most of our wine comes from TWS with occasional forays for everyday drinking in supermarkets nearby. We also like to take the odd short drive to Stone Vine and Sun, an independent not too far away and stocking some seriously nice wines. Pricier than TWS but different wines so that gives a different slant on things.


#12

I think that one has to be clinical in achieving whatever your objective is.
Most of us have finite resources, so you should plan around an annual spend number to purchase a drinking cellar, say 10 years hence. And that decade moves inexorably ahead one year at a time, and so should your purchases.
What you wish to drink from day to day is quite something else! Another budget!
Impossible, I hear you cry and so it is, BUT having the underlying plan will help you get there, even if in moments of occasional weakness, you succumb to desire.
First and foremost is to decide what single area or maybe two that you wish to concentrate on.
Put cash away for the EP campaign.
For a recent example you might have said Northern Rhone in 2015.
Southern Rhone in 2016.
Buy a few books off eBay, and read voraciously.
Scour the internet, you do NOT have to pay subscriptions to Vinous or The Wine Advocate, all the latest info leaks out within days of a regions reports publication and the pages of Farr Vintners, Fine & Rare etc become you friend.
I could write a 10 page epistle on this subject and barely scratch the surface.
But before anything, you have to be determined that you have the patience, the resolve and the determination to achieve your goal.
For me, it was like a military campaign and I had my objective within my sights.
There were many bumps along the way, you have to be adaptable but if you have the will to succeed, then you can get there.
And let us not forget that it is all about the incredibly sublime experience of tasting lovely wine having bought it EP and patiently waited until it was “right” and (YES!) sharing it with others without being a bore about it.:open_mouth:
That achievement while gratifying will teach you so much about yourself and what pinnacles you can climb in other facets of your time on this planet!:wink:
Enough, as the question asked is that you will know when you get there.
The number is a movable feast for all of us, it (for me) is redefined on an occasional basis.


#13

As always, really interesting to read your thoughts @Taffy-on-Tour. I have to confess, though, that I doubt I will ever be able to (nay, desire to) treat wine purchasing as a military operation (and having been in the military- even less so!!).

I totally agree about budgets and goals, but for me there is a limit as to how ‘clinical’ (as you say) I want this hobby to be.

And maybe this is where we differ? I still feel it’s a hobby, a passion and a new world to discover in terms of aesthetic pleasure. I fear that any over-thinking of it might kill the very joy it brings me.

But that’s just me, of course - and that’s why it’s so interesting to read people’s different approaches to their cellar (or lack thereof).


#14

Wine is my passion, of that there is no doubt.
But to achieve my aspiration of a great drinking cellar, one decade hence I came up with MY PLAN that would achieve it for me, as I wasn’t born with a silver spoon …etc
So a lot of hard decisions along the way, making mistakes but eventually I got there.
It is hard to reconcile the 2 aspects of the desire, the methodology and the achievement.
You cannot buy them all, if you could then the passion would be reduced to sawdust.
So difficult times when confronted by several cases that I so wanted but could only afford one, and then just barely. There was pain, when deciding, it was a campaign and there were battles of desire but winning the war (i.e. my initial objective) was the goal.
That first decade was hard, but since then I have been able to indulge myself with the knowledge that I had a good cellar built of a delightful foundation. If I hadn’t been hard on myself, that would not have occurred as I might have lost focus. I know that I sound clinical but for me, that was the only way I could get there.
The passion and the hobby is still there, and now I have a cellar that I am proud of!!
And the same as you, I took “a bob” once!!:open_mouth:
So there!!:wink:


#15

I don’t want to admit to a number (less than 10% are at home) but I’m pretty certain I have too many. I did promise Mrs Oldandintheway that the number wouldn’t go up a few years ago but although I’ve pretty much managed that it seems very difficult to get the number to decrease. I think the how many question depends to an extent on how old you are (and on how long your preferred style of wine takes to mature).


#16

You make a very valid point, there was a similar thread earlier on this subject, building a cellar for the future makes some sense when you are younger not so much as the years go by.
As well as your tastes changing and they do for most of us, there also comes a time when your cellar gets to that ‘collector’ phase in that you keep buying for an indeterminate future but don’t drink it.

As to investor, these days you have to have very deep pockets to be in the successful collector group, if you follow the Decanter liv-ex you will see from that and auctions that only the very best make any money worth talking about these days.

My unloading earlier this year of most of my in bond wines was proof of that, nearly all second tier Bordeaux cru wines from excellent vintages made hardly any profit and that was down to one Rhone wine and a Barolo the rest any profit was swallowed up by storage and insurance fees, which is why with my age EP is a dead duck.
The full case buying is also problematic as if it is EP you have no real idea what it will be like to drink in 20 years time, only the words of a critic who has tasted from cask ? and if you then open one and don’t like it that much you are lumbered with a very expensive wine and many wasted years plus those fees again unless you have your own cellar.

I still have well over 400 bottles in my cellar and that does not include everyday drinking which I purchase as and when, how many do you need unless you are going to drink these very good wines all the time, when I look at what I now have available there is more than enough variety and maturity to keep me going to the end.
And that of course is the tricky bit estimating when you are going to pop off so you can run your cellar down to zero, can’t be done of course but in an ideal world…:joy:

I have said it before wine is there to be enjoyed, far to much time can be spent analysing all the aspects, you will pick up most of what you need to know along the way, the specialist items can be gleaned from those who know with little effort, less planning less worrying and more drinking of the stuff is a much more sensible way to go.
I had a very good friend who now lives in Spain, he was a great imbiber of red wine wine mainly Bordeaux and Rioja, he would spend serious money on the wines he wanted to drink, but I doubt he ever had more than two dozen bottles at home, if he felt he needed something he went out and purchased it, he couldn’t despite being more than able to afford it be bothered with all that cellaring etc, he had a point.


#17

Great thread.

I’m hoping for a sort of organic approach to building up to the right number and balance.

Haven’t been doing it for long, in the grand scheme of things, but during each calendar year I plump for two out of the three main en primeur events, each time purchasing one case of long-term, one of medium-term and one of affordable but tasty-looking magnums. I’ll also go for one of the one-off EP-style offers (Weinert, Meerlust, etc) and mix up a 12-pack of four different ageworthy wines from elsewhere to put in reserves for five years.

I’m doing this slightly blindly … the lazy-thinking, no-master-plan being that my collection will achieve its own natural balance over the years - after all, mature wines are readily available if I don’t have quite as many as I’d like; on the other hand, if things get top-heavy, I can focus on everyday purchases for a while and keep the excess fancy wines in reserves a little longer. Or just drink up :clinking_glasses:

That’s the theory, anyway, but I won’t be too upset if it all goes to pot.


#18

Interesting and in general I agree with you. However early on I had a strong interest in Chateauneuf du Pape and purchased fairly eagerly (also the surrounding areas). Subsequently my taste drifted northwards towards Cornas and Cote Rotie and I kind of fell out of love with the Southern Rhone. I didn’t sell though and recently on revisiting those I have I find many are much more to my taste than I thought they would be. I guess for me it’s probably both an illustration of the pendulum of my taste swinging back towards such styles but also the mellowing that age has brought the wines (I wouldn’t claim any such mellowing on the part of the drinker…)


#19

I have too many but not enough at the same time!


#20

Interesting variation of plans and tactics!
I started buying with a view to building a cellar in around 2012. Bordeaux/Rhône 2010 my first EP purchased and also started a VCP. Also buy some ad hoc both to drink in short term and tuck away. Initially everything for keeps was going into TWS reserves. Now have a cabinet at home to hold about 130 bottles which helps with buying odd bottles of wines for future drinking if I want. Now have just over 300 bottles in total and drinking windows ranging from now to the early 2030’s. Keep telling myself I can probably slow down my purchasing rate. Seems easier said than done though!