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The new year is a prime time for wine collectors to organize, plan, purge and simply freshen up the wine cellar. It is also the ideal time for taking stock of your collection. Here are a few cellar housekeeping tips.

Most wines should be consumed within one to two years. If you receive a bottle of wine as a gift, unless you know or were told it would age, open and enjoy it in the next six months. Don’t let a wine deteriorate in your collection because you assumed a fancy label or unfamiliar brand implied cellar storage.

Wine tags (paper labels that look similar to “do not disturb” hotel room door tags that slip over the neck of the bottle) are a convenient tool for organizing your cellar. For avid collectors these tags can be used to identify vintages and rare single bottles without movement in your cellar and for everyday cellar management the tags can be used as reminders of when to open, or even note if the bottle was a gift or purchased for a specific occasion.

Wine tags are also a great way to leave instructions for others who may be choosing wine from your collection with notes such as “Everyday Wine for Dinner,” “Ask Me First,” “Don’t Touch” or “Sacred.”

Whether you are a beginning collector or one who proudly boasts a cellar filled with treasures it is a good idea to keep an organized inventory. Remember, simplicity is key. A computer program is a good way to keep track of wines in your cellar, but you can do the same job with handwritten bottle tags or even the uncomplicated pad and pencil.

Cellaring is not only for long-term aging; consider adding everyday wines in your cellar space to retain their quality.


  • 2006 Stephen Vincent Crimson Red, California (about $16, retail)
  • 2007 Hogue Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington (about $15 retail)
  • 2008 Montinore Estate Pinot Gris, Oregon (about $17 retail)
  • 2006 Murphy-Goode Liar’s Dice Zinfandel, California (about $17 retail)
  • 2007 Cellar No. 8 Merlot, California (about $10 retail)
  • 2007 Arido Malbec, Argentina (about $10 retail)
  • 2007 Santi Pinot Grigio, Italy (about $16 retail)

Wines intended to age will change over time; some will mellow and others will evolve into perfection. The following are possible additions to your cellar created for aging.


  • 2006 Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile (about $110 retail)
  • 2007 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $54 retail)
  • 2006 Kistler Vineyards Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay, California (about $99 retail)
  • 2006 E. Guigal Chateauneuf du Pape, France (about $82 retail)