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Personal Wine CellarThis will be a two-part column about recommended wines to stock in order to have a variety on hand.

The idea of starting your own wine collection or filling a cellar is very intimidating for most of us. But keep in mind only a minuscule percentage of wine drinkers are actually buying and investing in fine wines to age and cellar for extended lengths.

Most of us are simply interested in buying wines to drink and enjoy while taking advantage of the convenience of selecting a bottle at home rather than making a special trip to the wine shop for every occasion.

Many readers ask me what wines I recommend for keeping a case on hand or what I would select for starting a collection. I think a great place to start is with a variety of wines from light to fullbodied, sweet to bubbly, and wines for many occasions. You don’t have to have a cellar to begin collecting. It can start with a wine rack, corner of the refrigerator or even the back of your closet.


If you are ever stumped or in doubt about which wine to pair with your creation, grab a bottle of bubbly. Sparkling styles are extremely versatile to have on hand, whether for toasting a special occasion or serving with salty or fried appetizers or just about any entree you could craft. I also like to keep a bottle or two on hand for a great last-minute hostess, birthday or anniversary gift. There’s no need to spend a lot, because there aremany values ranging from $10 to $20 a bottle with excellent quality.

  • NV Piper Sonoma Brut Sparkling, California (about $15 retail)


The go-to bottle for salads, seafood, vegetables and most cheeses is sauvignon blanc. This crowd-pleasing wine has a refreshing acidity, light body and tropical fruity taste.

  • 2011 Honig Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $16 retail) BLUSHING BEAUTY

Many of you already knowmy thought on rose wines is that they are very underrated. This incredibly versatile style should be part of everyone’s case on hand. It is appropriate for the most formal occasion or an outside picnic and can pair with meats ranging from light to dark. The key is staying with a dry or off-dry choice.

  • 2011 Cline Vineyards Rose, California (about $15 retail)


For avid grillers, syrah/shiraz is must-have in the collection. It’s as if this wine was created solely for full-bodied, earthier red meats and other foods cooked over an open flame.

  • 2010 Wyndham Estate Shiraz Bin 555, Australia (about $14 retail) COMFORTABLY RED

If for no other reason than its familiarity for guests, a cabernet sauvignon is important to have on hand. It matches well with hearty meats and pasta dishes and soups and cheeses. I keep a few bottles on hand to serve as an option as a quick gift.

  • 2010 Liberty School Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $15 retail)


Wine experts and chefs agree: Pinot noir is the ultimate food-friendly red wine. Also it’s an ideal wine for dinner menus where red meat and fish are being served.

  • 2010 Estancia Paso Robles, California (about $14 retail)