Magazine article Sunset

A Cellar for the Rest of Us

Magazine article Sunset

A Cellar for the Rest of Us

Article excerpt

When I was younger, it seemed that the world was divided into two kinds of wine drinkers: people like me, who aged wine for about as long as it took to get the bottle home from the store, and people with five-figure, temperature-controlled cellars showcasing thousands of pricey bottles. Short of winning the lottery, I knew I'd never be part of the second group.

But over the years, I've realized that most wine drinkers fall somewhere between these extremes. Thousands of wines are more than most people need or can afford, but a ready stock of, say, 20 to 40 bottles can make wine an easy part of your daily routine.

But which wines should you have? The kinds I'd suggest keeping on hand are somewhat different from the conventional collection. Instead of laying away X number of vintages of Bordeaux, Y number of Burgundies, and so on, buy for current drinking and real-life situations. I've included a list of categories below, but add your own. Keep at least one bottle on hand for each purpose.

For comfort foods. It's Wednesday night, and you're having meatloaf. You might be surprised at how good an unfussy, inexpensive white wine can be: Adelsheim Pinot Gris 2002 (Oregon; $16) has a beautiful lemon-drop, vanilla, and spice character. If you like reds, try Hedges "CMS" 2000 (Columbia Valley, WA; $10), a mouth filling blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah.

For company. When friends come by, the perfect wine is one that's easy to drink but has some panache. Muga Rioja Reserva 1999 (Rioja, Spain; $17) has the earthy sensuality of a Burgundy that costs four times as much. …

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