1 Hundreds and hundreds of bottles of wine, liquor and other spirits were removed from my wine cellar and roughly grouped in an adjacent room - wine in one corner, and everything else in another.
2 I organized all the bottles by year. I did this while the bottles were still on the floor.
3 I used pieces of paper to mark bottles grouped in the same vintage year. The characteristics of a vintage year are determined by weather and the quality of that year's grape crop. Vintages are most important when collecting wines designed to be aged.
4 Some bottles were grouped on an empty shelf. I used every available surface to properly categorize all of them. When organizing wine, it's a good idea to allocate specific space for "everyday" wines that are consumed more casually, so they are within easy reach.
5 It took quite a bit of time to read every label - some vintage years are listed in very small sized print.
6 Meanwhile, as you recall in an earlier blog, the wine cellar's shelves were all cleaned and wiped down. The ideal temperature for a wine cellar is between 45-degrees Fahrenheit and 65-degrees Fahrenheit, with 55-degrees being close to perfect.
7 Once all the bottles were arranged by year, I began returning them to the shelves. Always store wine bottles on their sides to keep the corks from drying out. Corks expand in the neck of wine bottles to prevent oxygen from getting inside. When a cork dries out, air starts to enter, causing premature oxidation.
8 Some wines were older than others. And, some wines were more rare. The most special wines in a collection should be kept in places less apt to be disturbed.
10 Some wines were purchased by the case, most likely left over from big parties at the farm. I grouped all like wines together as well.
11 Here are several of the same bottles from 1999. These paper labels will be replaced by nicer, more permanent ones, once all the bottles are stored and inventoried.
13 Here is a group of wines from 2013. Not all wines will improve over time. Newer, less expensive wines likely won't change. Red wines can take anywhere from two to 10-years to mature. Many white wines should be consumed after about three years of storage, and select Chardonnays can be aged for more than 20-years.
14 Unfortunately, during this organizing process, one bottle did break. It was a bottle of 1955 Vin de Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, worth more than one-thousand dollars - such mishaps always seem to happen to the more expensive items.
15 Champagne bottles were also organized and grouped appropriately. Here is my collection of Dom Perignon.
16 On another part of the shelf, I stored all the boxed Dom Perignon.
17 Another wine organizing tip is to consider the size of the bottles collected. The standard size for a wine bottle is 750ml, but magnum bottles hold double at 1.5 liters - these giant bottles need more space.
18 All my sipping tequilas were also arranged and stored on a shelf.
19 In this section, rum and sake.
20 And on this shelf, vodka. Vodka can also be stored in the freezer, but as all other alcohol, as long as it is kept in a cool, dry place, away from heat and direct sunlight, it will be fine.
21 Whiskeys, bourbons and other spirits are on another shelf.
22 Aperitifs, digestifs, and dessert wines are here.
23 And at the bottom of another shelf, I keep a stock of beer.
24 Once stored, try not to move wines - keep them as undisturbed as possible until they are ready to use. Wines are delicate and can break down over time if exposed to a lot of movement or vibration.
25 Humidity in a wine cellar is also important - it should be kept around 70-percent. This level keeps the corks moist. Above 70-percent humidity can encourage mold and cause labels to loosen.
26 And, remember that wine "breathes", so don't store it with anything that has a strong smell. Smells will permeate through the cork and taint the wine.
27 The next phase of the project will be to properly tag each bottle, and to take proper inventory of the collection by scanning each label, documenting its value, tracking vintage years, and noting what I like and don't like. Stay tuned...