Wine103 9/27 Year of the Plague
If wine is on your “Who I am list” along with being a life student of food. Joys of being a student of wines #1: drinking, and perhaps #2 is your Cellar & perhaps #3 purchasing…. Until you have a house to call your own you can’t really have a cellar. You can warehouse/store your cases. I can’t imagine doing that except in special circumstances, e.g., if my uncle died & gave the estate gave me cases of great wines or if my uncle sent loads of wine every year from his Calif vineyard – I might rent wine storage & restock my apartment every couple weeks.
And shopping is more fun if you have a cellar. In NYC I had a choice of “famous” stores. Several of them knew I modestly bought Bordeaux futures. I spent hours reading each year to decide which 5 cases of futures to buy. You had to study weather discussions – is it a great vintage? J reminds me of my foci when we were new house owners & at that time, she preg ….. She reminds me my new cellar was up there competing with her belly. She reminds me the first AC we had was in the cellar. The second was in her bedroom – & the year of Devin’s birth it was a hot summer.
You can’t really have a cellar in an apartment. Part of the fun of wine is visiting your cellar. To be standing around your bottles with “names” visible while you’re drinking a fine wine. Perhaps updating your wine dbase. I used to use a Johnsons Pocket Wine Guide & notate it for my collection. Or great pre-dinner fun to perhaps be showing it to a friend & explaining your collection & choosing wine for dinner.
Without a house you would really need to use ½ of a small room made into an “apartment cellar”. A bit much for most budgets. My Park Avenue friends usually have Hampton houses where they can have great cellars. But a modest cottage in Queens is enuf for the rest of us to have a great cellar. When we lived up at Cornell & rented we drank good wines. Lafite was $20. Why not. We lived without AC & couldn’t collect wine. And we were still in my Champagne era. So when at 40 we moved into our first (and only) house. In Queens on a hill and a walk to the subway. & it has a full cellar so I immediately got to work.
Our cottage is perhaps 40′ long and the back is uphill & the basement in the back is wet and dank with no windows. Completely unfinished basement & attic. A 5 room house with one bathroom & 2 bedrooms. Sold to us untouched since being built in1935.
I considered myself a builder (a major avocation– see my building cabin & barn discussions) – and every Italian is a mason. And so I immediately bought full size cinder blocks enuf to enclose an 8′ by 11′ floor to ceiling corner room. Way in the back of the basement. With a secret door – a bookcase which opens. My temperature & humidity thoughts are/were that only daily variations in temp are bad. So a cheap AC poking thru the cinder blocks does that. And in winters I just leave the room unheated. It might go down to a constant 60.
I built from thin wood 1” by 2”s very open matrix like (rows and columns) skeletal shelves (bookcases) holding only single bottles – not cases . One wall matrix holds perhaps 100 bottles and a structure in the room’s center perhaps 200 more. Every label is visible. Cases may be stored along two walls. The ceiling is vaulted wood – a touch of class. Lots of insulation in the cinder blocks and ceiling. One wall the cinder blocks are covered with wood identifying end-pieces from old wine cases. “1970 Latour”, “1983 Lynch Bages”… memories. Much of the cellar is remaining are 1983 Bordeaux, JJ Prum, ports. Devin’s birth year – his inheritance.