How to Build a Wine Collection on a Budget

How to Build the Wine Collection of Your Dreams on a Budget

Few things are more appealing to a wine lover than the thought of a cellar that is fully stocked with an impressive inventory of vintage bottles. The perfect collection does not have to break the bank, though. Here are some helpful tips for how to build a wine collection on a budget. It is easier than you might think.

Plan, Plan, Plan

The first step is to budget. True wine collections are living inventories, meaning you will spend money on new purchases over time. Establishing a set budget can help you decide exactly how you want to build your collection.

When adding to your inventory, try shopping with specific events in mind. Bottle size, price and wine variety can all be affected by when you are planning to serve the bottle. Planning an inventory that suits your lifestyle will make sure you are prepared for anything—no more running out last minute to grab a bottle before guests show up.

Most high-end collections are comprised of about 50% drinkable wines, both young and ready-to-drink aged wines, also known as Blue Chip bottles. The other 50% consists of wines that typically require 5 years or more of aging. These bottles are rare as most wines are meant to be consumed within 5 years of bottling at the very latest. However, aging more than 5 years can help develop the flavors and add to the overall value of certain varieties.

Buying a high-end bottle of wine when it is young and aging it yourself can be far cheaper than purchasing the pricier aged bottles. This applies more to red wines than whites, though some white wines do also age well. Consult an aging guide to ensure you plan your collection correctly.

For drinkable wines, a good place to start on a collection is with an equal amount of both red and white, as well as New World and Old World bottles, in a variety of styles. Blue Chip mixes often include Bordeaux, Champagne and Burgundy varieties among others, and California wines are a popular choice among collectors looking for bottles that require aging.

Know What You Are Looking for in a Wine

Establishing a price point before searching for bottles to add to your collection will help guide the process and keep you within your budget. Once you have set your desired price range, it is time to decide whether you are looking to stock your collection with reds or whites. While there is a “typical” distribution for high-end inventories, each collection should reflect the collector. Are you an avid Cabernet fan? Stock up on that variety. If Rieslings are not your favorite, your inventory should reflect that. After all, what good is an amazing wine collection if you are not going to enjoy drinking it?

Research can be a huge help in identifying the bottles you want to add to your collection. Region, tasting notes and price are only the beginning. Looking for critic ratings, production run details and even available shipping and distribution information can also help you pick the best bottles.

Shopping in brick and mortar stores can be a more tangible way to research available varieties as they provide the opportunity to chat with a buyer—who has typically tasted every wine the store carries—and taste the wines yourself before purchasing. Avid wine drinkers will likely have established preferences for body, sweetness, tannin and acidity in a wine. On the other hand, what if you are new to wine and do not have a favorite flavor profile yet or maybe you are looking to branch out and have no idea where to start? No need to worry! Buyers are typically more than happy to provide suggestions or help you better pinpoint the flavor profiles that best suit your taste.

Online services are also available for buyers looking to do things digitally. While you cannot actually taste the varieties before purchase, detailed information on the vineyard, tasting notes and production run are typically available to help inform your decision.

If you find a seller you really like, stick with them! Most distributors will be happy to help you grow your collection.

Store Your Wine Properly

In order to build a stellar wine collection, it is essential to know how to store wine properly. Cool, humid environments are typically the best place to store wines—55 degrees Fahrenheit at 75% relative humidity (RH) is generally considered the best condition for wine storage. High humidity, as well as storing wine bottles on their sides, will help prevent the corks from drying out and shriveling, resulting in premature oxidation and lower quality wine. Be sure to store bottles accordingly and avoid overhandling to preserve the aging process.

While most avid wine collectors invest in temperature-controlled cellars to house their inventories, an expensive setup is not necessarily required to start a wine collection. The main key to proper wine storage is to avoid any extreme temperature fluctuations which will spoil the wine. Placing a wine rack on top of the refrigerator may serve as a beautiful piece of décor, but the heat and vibration from the appliance may end up spoiling any bottles stored there. In fact, most wine experts advise against storing wine in the kitchen entirely as appliances typically cause temperature changes that create an inhospitable environment for storage. Finding any consistently cool, dark space to store your wines, such as a basement or closet, will help preserve their quality more effectively.

Keep Things Organized

Keeping your collection organized is helpful for a few reasons. First, establishing an order and tracking dates will show you how long bottles have been aging for and how long they have until they are ready to drink. This helps you avoid disrupting the bottles frequently in order to check their dates—too much movement can cause premature aging resulting in lower quality flavor. Tracking the dates in your wine collection will help you know exactly when it is time to break out the bottle opener without having to disturb your inventory.

Knowing your inventory inside and out can also help inform future purchases. Whether you are looking to diversify your collection or keep an aging favorite in stock, detailed records of your existing inventory will help you decide which bottles to buy next.

While creating the vino inventory of your dreams is an investment, it is not one that has to break the bank—you just need to know how to build a wine collection on a budget! Which one of Perry Homes’ newly designed floorplans will you choose to house your dream collection?