Being a collector of wine doesn’t just mean stockpiling the rarest, fanciest bottles we can find. It’s also a way to preserve memories. Wine and spirits are souvenirs we can savor to celebrate a person, place or experience. Our editors have all sorts of excellent bottles stashed away, but some of their most beloved are not fancy at all—they just come with a good story.
The first wine I ever cellared was a bottle of Carina Cellars 2004 7 Percent Syrah. A priest who I had interviewed in Los Olivos told me this new winery was having a sale, so I bought a bottle of this and a case of Syrah for $90, along with a wine stand from Costco to house my new collection. I bought it in 2005, and it said not to drink until 2007, so I put it in a brown paper bag and wrote “Do Not Open Till 2007” on it. I actually managed to wait until 2014, when I brought it to a memorial for Winemaker Chris Whitcraft.
Managing Editor & Tasting Director
I have an Il Poggione 1998 Brunello di Montalcino in my cellar that I inherited from my dad. Though it’s nothing crazy, it’s one of the last bottles I have from his small collection, and therefore, one of my most cherished. I keep thinking, when a milestone comes up, that I’m going to finally pop it open, but I haven’t been able to yet. Thankfully, this being a wine from such a reputable estate and a classic cellar-friendly region, I know it can hold on while I attempt to find that absolute ideal time to enjoy it.
It took me a while to warm up to whiskey. The journey started one night at a burger joint with its drink menu written on a chalkboard. One name seemed to be written brighter than the others: Defiant Whisky. A quick Google search turned up an article by a food writer I trust, saying she doesn’t like whiskey, but this American single-malt, produced in North Carolina by salvage divers, is delicious. I ordered a pour, and it became the bottle I bring to parties, as well as a gateway for me to enjoy other whiskies. The first bottle I bought lives unopened at the back of my liquor cabinet, a reminder that a little defiance is a good thing.
My first trip with my wife, Karen, was to Portugal in 1999. I had arranged to visit some Port houses and was invited to stay at the Symington family’s home at Vesuvio. We arrived on a splendid fall day and were asked to join in foot-stomping grapes. We jumped into the lagar, dancing and stomping to the tune of “Yellow Submarine.” When the 1999 Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port was released, we bought a six-bottle case and opened the first bottle on our wedding day in March 2002. Every five years since, we open a bottle on our anniversary. We have two left, which makes them more special than ever.
Anne Krebiehl, MW
I’m cellaring a number of Felton Road 2009 Pinot Noirs. That is the first vintage I ever worked. I had just tentatively struck out as a freelancer in the wine world. I was also studying and thought that nothing would teach me as much as working vintage myself. I headed to the other side of the world to work out in these beautiful vineyards as a part of a fabulously international and friendly picking crew. Equipped with secateurs, we set off every day and I harvested the grapes for these wines with my own hands. Being on that vineyard was transformative and one of the happiest, most fulfilling times of my life. It was the beginning of my wine career, and these wines are an immensely precious reminder of that.