Top Tips for Building a Home Wine Cellar

Common sense and strategic thinking will help you create a wine collection that stands the test of time.

1. Taste, taste, taste and learn what you like. 
Wine tastings and festivals are ideal for tasting wines without spending a fortune. Ask your wine store manager about upcoming events. Restaurants often host wine tastings with local wine stores, distributors, or vineyards. And don't sip and forget. Track whether you like wines from big regions like Spain, areas like Napa Valley or individual vineyards. Identify your favorite grape varieties and keep a record.

2. Plan your cellar. 
The magic of wine invites unbridled enthusiasm in its fans, but before you run amok, set up a budget (in dollars and bottles) for your initial purchase and for replacing what you drink. Develop cellar guidelines, such as how many bottles from each region or other category.

3. Buy more red wines than white wines. 
Because white wines age for only a few years, store white wines you will drink within five or six years.

4. Buy more than one bottle. 
If your budget allows, buy at least two bottles of each wine. In addition to a backup in case of a bad bottle, you can drink bottles at different times to learn how wine changes with age

5. Stock wines that compliment the food you eat and the way you entertain. 
Ask restaurant sommeliers and wine store managers for wine recommendations. Tell them what you like, the food pairing, occasion, and price range. If your friends serve wines you like, ask about their favorites.

6. Buy more than one vintage. Consult a vintage chart and purchase the same wine from a fair, good, and great vintage. (Life's too short to drink bad wine.)

7. Purchase across price ranges. 
Stock lower-priced wines for near-term consumption. To make pricey wines more affordable, buy recent vintages, when they cost less, and cellar them until they mature.

8. Organize your cellar.
Arrange your bottles based on how you usually choose a wine: by region, varietal, food, or event. Leave room in the racks for more bottles of wines you like or those you drink most often. Store expensive bottles out of easy reach, so you don't grab your best bottle for a weeknight potluck.

9. Keep a wine journal.
Make notes about every wine you drink. Your journal can help you identify what you like, which wines pair with which foods, how wines age, who provides the best recommendations, best buys, and so on.

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