02/08/2012

Cellaring Wine Is Scary

Wine is a finite resource for me, because there’s only so much of it I can afford. I tend to lean towards collecting what I hope will be really great bottles and opening them after they’ve resolved themselves and come into their magnificent prime. I find myself walking slowly past my wine, brow furrowed, arms crossed, trying to will the bottles to be ready to drink. When a good friend shows up and I want to share one of my great bottles, I often can’t bring myself to do it. If I wait a bit longer, it’ll get even better. I anxiously wait, week after week for the perfect day. But when the hell is that?

I guess it’s a lot like owning stock. I watch it start okay, fall of a cliff, then slowly climb higher than it ever was before. It’s climbing ever higher, the reviews are pouring in on Cellartracker, people are heaping praise, but a single review ends with “This will be amazing with a little longer in the cellar”. I hear my dad’s voice in my head, with an odd echoey reverb.     Selllll…    Selllll…   Pigs get slaughtered…

Many of my bottles I buy in twos, because spending a fair bit on a bottle only to inadvertently open it too soon breaks my heart. I buy a second, because then if it’s not ready, I can wait a while for the next one. And if the first is exceptional, lucky me, I have another bottle to crack soon after. With so much time and money invested in these bottles, when the hell is the right time to open them?!? It gives me a tremendous amount of anxiety, and makes me anxious whenever we have company. The other problem is many of my friends just don’t know that much about wine, so I feel a disproportionate amount of pressure to kick the tires and light the fires on some friendly wine drinking obsessions. When I open a bottle too young, just because I have the opportunity to share it, I’m pissed at myself for not waiting longer. Screw you patience.

Lately I’ve scrambled to buy cheap wine to fill the void. Most of my bottles will start being pretty great to drink in the next 2-3 year, and it’s gotten ridiculously hard to justify to my wife the ever-growing piles of wine that we can’t drink. The accusatory looks I get, though justified, fuel my impatience. I love drinking wine, and not to sound snobby, but I enjoy great wine that gives me new taste experiences far more than just getting a buzz. Honestly I’ll reach for a watery glass of rye over that cheap bottle of vino. Costs less, does the trick, and often doesn’t give me the same headache in the morning.

If I could find some cases of descent cab or chardonnay with a few decades on them at an auction or something, I’d be thrilled. It’d have to be pretty cheap though, 15-20 bucks a bottle. Winebid is pretty good for that kind of thing to an extent, but more just for individual bottles, and ideally I’d love to avoid all those not-so-fun shipping costs.

The waiting continues. Maybe in 5-6 years I’m going to have too much wine in it’s prime, and my anxiety will continue, but that’s a problem I’m willing to embrace.

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