I suppose what is missing from the analysis people are providing is how much is held in drinking now vs to be aged categories.
The simple math is take annual/quarterly consumption and multiply it by average age of wine drunk. The younger the wine, the less inventory one probably needs to carry (e.g. young wine can be found more easily).
For myself, I’ve directionally thought about it like this given we have a strong preference for reds (although Riesling and sticky’s wouldn’t be far off this profile):
Really simplistically, if you’re looking to drink 12 bottles of aged Barolo, Bordeaux, Rhone and Burgundy, then you probably want to cellar for a decade. This implies “only” drinking just shy of a bottle per week from this category… which in our household is probably on the light side and could easily be doubled.
If you say you want to age this a minimum of 10 years, then you’re already at 480 bottles.
In our household, I’d argue that the drinking age could be increased by 50% to 5 years and the quantity doubled.
So that gets our house to 1,440 bottles straight off the bat (bearing in mind this will be built up over 15 years however).
BUT… this implies that we don’t have anything else to drink until that starts to be drunk… in our case at 15 years.
If I stick with 2 bottles per week, let’s say in this next category, with an average age of 5 years, then that gets me to another 520 bottles which would be cycled 3 times whilst waiting for the older vintages to mature. so we’re at 520 bottles.
Ok, so then lets say we then bring in cellar defenders which I assume we refresh every quarter - we drink 4 bottles per week and so that gets you to 52 bottles.
So I am at:
- Aged classics: 1440 bottles
- 5 year greats: 520 bottles
- Easy drinkers: 52 bottles.
So a base cellar of 2012 bottles (which would reduce as the older vintages mature and become a bigger share of weekly drinking)
I then need to think about:
- Port (assume 1 bottles per quarter with an average age of 20 years): 80 bottles.
- Champagne: (assume 1 bottles per quarter with an average age of 5 years): 20 bottles.
- Special occasions: (assume 12 bottles per event, held every 2 years with an average age of 10 years): 60 bottles.
So 160 bottles for specials.
Bringing this together, in our household can justify a cellar of about 2,200 bottles.
Again, this is based on drinking about 4 bottles per week. If I again do that rough math; if I’m talking 4 bottles per week at an average age of 9 years then that gets you to 1,872 bottles. Add on the 160 specials then you’re at just over 2,000 again so feels about right +/- 100 bottles!
The follow-on questions that then surface are:
- Is 4 bottles a week the right number? (we did about 4.3pw last year).
- What is the average price of those bottles?
- What are storage costs?
- How do you manage this cellar as tastes/circumstances change?