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Drinking not hoarding 

Some good advice for wine nuts. By all means build a cellar, but don’t be a hoarder. It’s a common phenomenon to see a hard-bitten wine geek build up a cellar full of treasured bottles of enormous proportions, accumulating far faster than they’re being guzzled.

Most wine geeks, left to their own devices and free of serious budgetary constraints, will buy far more bottles than they actually consume. This is something I struggle with to a degree, and I don’t know many wine nuts that lack this magpie-like tendency to acquire interesting bottles. Hands up, readers!

Unless we show a fair degree of self-control, we will end up with a fairly large stash of decent-ish wine. The problem I find is that while I have lots of social occasions where something modest is called for – an everyday wine – there are relatively few evenings where I feel justified in cracking open something posh. Let’s face it, I don’t want to open a £20+ Côte Rôtie only to see it guzzled by someone who’d probably have preferred a fruity Chilean Cabernet.

This problem is confounded by the fact that all wines – even ageworthy ones – have a lifespan, and unless you have a cellar packed full of first growths, there’s a danger that you’ll leave stuff cellared until its past its best. I’ve had a few recent wines, which I’ve had cellared in good conditions, but which would have been better a few years ago – most recently an austere 1996 Patache d’Aux Medoc Cru Bourgeois and a dried out 1995 Ch Lancyre Grande Cuvée Pic St Loup.

What’s the solution? Well, first off it pays to plan wine purchasing so that accumulation and consumption are roughly in step. It seems silly and wasteful to have a 5000 bottle cellar when you know you simply aren’t going to drink most of the wines in your lifetime.

Second, be generous, both to yourself and others. Don’t hoard the good stuff for a day that will never come. Some wines, it seems, are so exalted in their owners’ eyes that there will never be an occasion good enough to justify opening them.

A mistake people commonly make is to buy a wine at a good price only for the market to rise, and consequently they consider the wine to be worth the market value. If you paid £15 en primeur for a wine only to find out a decade later it’s now worth £75, don’t forget it only cost you £15. You are allowed to drink it and enjoy it without thinking that you’ve just drunk £75 worth of wine.

Being generous with yourself is important. Wine is supposed to be enjoyed. Bottles are designed to be uncorked, not fondled. Being generous with others who appreciate wine is also important. It genuinely is better to give than receive, hard though this can seem to grasp at times. I would add, though, that while I really enjoy sharing good wine with others, I also delight in popping open a decent wine on my own. Both are worthwhile.

The best thing about tucking into your cellar, though, is that it leaves space to fill. This means more buying – wine geek heaven!

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