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Starting a wine collection


Discussed this subject with Robert and he thinks it may be a good subject for discussion.

I am retiring in a few years [early of course] and want to build up a stock of wine to enjoy in my dotage., maybe start to drink the wine in 3 years. I have no great knowledge of wine and in terms of laying wine away have no clue.

I have started my collection by adding a case of The Exhibition Crozes-Hermitage to reserves.

My questions would be:-

  • When you start collecting wine how do you identify wine that’s suitable to lay away or put another way will be better in 3 years than it is now?

  • Are there any specific grape varieties which improve more with age?

  • As I will be unlikely to be spending any more than £20 per bottle, is this even worth doing?

  • Or would I simply be better just putting the money I would spend in an account and buying wine when I retire?

I hope the above questions aren’t too daft. Thanks ahead for any responses.



What a great set of questions! :smiley: I’m looking to start laying down wines myself, so I’ll be watching this with interest, but am not much help answering your questions.

I reckon @szaki1974 and @M1tch might have some ideas, and @Nowt_in_my_glass, @woodap and @Jonesy use our Vintage Cellar Plan so might be able to give their take on laying wines down. :smiley:


there was a similar style topic recently how many is enough but yours extends it a little

There are some on here far more knowledgeable than me but I will give it a try…

key aspect is only collect wines that you will want to drink in the future…no point putting away a case of Burgundy if you don’t like Pinot Noir!

Your Q1 and 2 are linked - not all wines age well and whilst you can have a good idea of what will have potential, the best way is to have tasted the wine young to see if it has the ability (structure and constituent parts making it suitable - tannins, acidity, flavours profile etc)

It really does depend on what you like drinking as we could all recommend 10 wines and you will just have a list of 100s of wines!..what do you like ?

Q3 - yes…I have 5€ bottles in my cellar that will be done there for unto 20 years ( St Nic de Bourguiel - Cabernet Franc)…you simply won’t be able to buy those bottles when they are in their drinking window! also £€ in general is helped by buying young and cellaring yourself…but you will need somewhere to put it !

Q4 - it depends on your approach…if you just want to drink the wine then possibly just buy as you need it. IF you, in your retirement, want to learn a little more, almost turn it into a hobby, then go for it - combine travel, great times with friends, perhaps a wine course…


A good topic @laura!

The VCP is a really good cost accessible way to do it - I definitely have the trust in the buying team to choose the right wines and depending on which plan you get they’re ready to drink in 3-5 years (maybe the claret is a tad longer). I think it starts at under £30 a month which is for 24 bottles a year of good wine.

It also stops you cherry picking and broadens your palate!

I just need to stop pacing up and down my stairs now waiting for it to mature, i’m so impatient!


My first step would be determining if you actually enjoy the character of mature wine by buying a few examples of the various allegedly age worthy styles. There’s a lot to be said for not developing a taste for older styles


A couple of links to articles I liked on starting a wine cellar, starting with Stephen Tanzer’s pearls of wisdom:


There’s a good one here by Steven Spurrier as well:


I was interrupted! I was going to say I know it has cost me a fair amount but in the end it was worth it. There’s lots of good advice in the links posted above and much to be said for cellar plans ( I certainly started that way). My one piece of advice, which I wish I’d been given early on, is try to not over concentrate on one area (I have a lot of Bordeaux I may never get around to drinking).


I think that is the best bit of advice, especially when you are collecting for your own enjoyment. Variety is the spice of life.


Interesting questions. First I’d like to ask what is it you enjoy drinking? And what proportion and quantity? So, red or white, new or old world, light or heavy, then Bordeaux or Rhone (structured or spicy). If you don’t know I’d start buying the odd bottle to try, or attend a tasting such as the TWS put on. Then take note of what pleases you.

The same advice goes for aged wine, when you think you know the general areas that interest you go and buy an already aged one and see if you like the “improvement”.

You might get this effect at a wine tasting group, where there will probably be others further along the collecting path who might share an aged bottle or two.


Just a couple of random thoughts…

Don’t neglect white wines - some are worth leaving for 5 or 6 years at least (thinking German Riesling, Champagne, some Alsace, Chenin Blanc and Vouvray) and can be difficult to source with that much bottle age.

The state of the economy and especially exchange rates can have an impact on anyone’s plans. Wines I bought in 2012 En Primeur were amazingly cheap in comparison to recent vintages, even with the annual storage costs added. Now, with a weak pound imported wine is becoming much more expensive - who knows the future direction and how that might influence your buying decisions.

Once you are confident in your tastes, buy wines of a ‘higher’ quality level than you would previously; everyday wine is much easier to source and there’s more choice. Keep some of your budget aside for these everyday drinking wines.

Try not to think you have to buy from every offer - be selective for your what you enjoy.

Invest in a wine fridge or similar at home and try not to fill it! Keep some space in it so that you can withdraw wines from TWS Reserves on a regular basis.



Thank you for all the responses and advice. I have concluded that as a start I need to do the following and my plan is:-

  1. Get a plan

  2. Drink more [what a great idea] seriously taste more types of wine and find out exactly what I like. My current go to wines are Merlot, Shiraz, Grenache , Rioja, Sangiovese

  3. Decide a ratio of red to white. I would say that I generally drink 10 reds to 2 whites

  4. Read more.

As a starting point I have just ordered the following:-

The Society’s Exhibition Crozes-Hermitage 2015

Morellino di Scansano, Podere 414 2016

Minervois La Livinière Cuvée Cantilène, Château Sainte-Eulalie 2015

Viña Zorzal Corral de Los Altos Garnacha, Navarra 2015

Grenache, Côtes Catalanes, Domaine Jones 2015

Lirac Blanc La Fermade, Domaine Maby 2017


On that point can anyone recommend a good book (or knowing this forum several dozen good books) for a keen beginner that explores things like the characteristics I should be able to expect in a wine due to: grape, soil, climate, aspect, altitude etc.

Oh and @japcraw you mentioned Rioja but didn’t order any; I can highly recommend pretty much any of the La Rioja Alta wines stocked by TWS, from the cheapest Arana to the more expensive GRs. They are probably my favourite Riojas and also produce some of the TWS own label Exhibition Riojas.


This is an incredibly good book that will serve you well for years!!


I wondered about that one as it does seem to get rave reviews. does it give a grounding on stuff other than location. ie more than just a regional atlas?

I love wine and have a good feel for what I know and like (or not) but my theory is almost non-existent!


The Atlas is a fab source of very detailed info. For a fun (and visual) information about grapes and their characteristics, I highly recommend Wine Folly’s book:

I also really like Oz Clarke’s Grapes & Wines:

Hope this helps :wink:


Yeah, a good 50 pages of really thorough, well-written, entertaining introductory stuff covering everything from history to terroir to winemaking to storage, serving, tasting - all sorts - before the maps kick in. And the maps themselves contain lots of great text about each region. It’s a fabulous book.


That Wine Folly book had also caught my eye. Maybe the atlas and the folly might make a good contrasting xmas present to myself (at least my non-alcoholic present).

Thanks guys!


It’s way more than a conventional atlas Mike. @Taffy-on-Tour is right, this will see you right and you can then decide which regional books you might want to buy. I think you like claret and the Bordeaux Atlas by Hubrecht Duijker might fit the bill even if a little bit dated now.


You could do a lot worse than that…I have tried all of these bar the Zorzal and they are all lovely wines. Morellino was a revelation and the Ste Eulalie Cantilene is fantastic too and will age well I think. @onlyawino is quite keen on it too I think :slight_smile:

If I were to add any it might be a Southern Rhone red, an Alsace White or a Musar, all of which are good value and have ageing potential.