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Updated Friday, December 21, 2012 at 02:51 PM

Wine-cellaring math helps you get the most from your storage

By Paul Gregutt
Special to The Seattle Times

NOTE FROM a reader: "Have you ever done, or thought about doing, a column that explores purchasing and holding strategies based on cellar size? It would seem that how one uses a 120-bottle rack might be interestingly different from how one would use a 240-bottle rack... 600 ... 1,200 etc.

"I've noticed that the hoity-toity magazines like to write about hoity-toity collectors and their hoity-toity collections, and I've concluded that those approaches might not be particularly applicable for us commoners with a cellar in a broom closet with storage capacity that is considerably closer to the number of bottles we open in a year (365?) than the number we'd open in a decade."

Great question, and what better way to tie a bow on 2012 than to take a look at what strategies might best be employed. Whether you are planning to add to a substantial collection or simply reorganizing your broom-closet wine cellar, the approach of a new year is a fine time to make some adjustments. Here are the factors that come into play:

What is your wine-storing capacity?

How much wine will you consume in a year?

How is it divided among sparkling, white, rosé, red, sweet and fortified wines?

And, most important, is the size of your wine collection increasing, decreasing or steady?

To work with some of the numbers noted above, this person consumes a bottle a day. Let's round it down to 360 bottles/30 cases annually. A 120-bottle rack would need to be completely replenished three times in a year, just to break even. That would make it quite difficult to do much in the way of cellaring wines longer-term.

You could, however, designate half the space to medium-term aging. In other words, those 60 bottles are not for everyday occasions. If you want to store wines, on average, an extra five years, you should drink and replace 12 bottles a year (one bottle a month) from the special stash. The other half of the rack would have to handle all the rest of your wine consumption. So you'd be buying at least a couple of cases of wine a month in order to keep it replenished.

Similar math can be applied to larger storage areas. Assuming you already have a full storage area, you should purchase as much wine as you consume. If you are not there yet, you should be buying more than you consume until you are full. The smaller the storage capacity, the more frequent the purchases, and less opportunity to age many wines.

Once your storage room exceeds your annual consumption, you can focus on stocking a wide-ranging assortment of wines to suit any occasion.

I want to wish you all the very best this holiday season. Drink well, with family and friends, and have a safe, prosperous New Year!

Paul Gregutt's blog is www.paulgregutt.com. Email: paulgwine@me.com.

Pick of the week

A to Z Wineworks 2011 Pinot Noir, $20

I LOVE pinot noir, especially with holiday fare such as turkey, salmon and ham, so let's close out the year's Picks with this raspberry and pie-cherry fruit bomb. It's lightly dusted with accents of cocoa powder; a pretty, slightly candied, ready-to-drink, most enjoyable bottle. (Distributed by Click)


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