How to Start a Wine Collection

Wine collecting is a great hobby for wine lovers! There is so much to learn, so many wines to taste, and hey…it’s like a grown-up version of collecting beanie babies or baseball cards. You don’t need to be wealthy, have extensive knowledge of wines, or have international connections. Collecting wine can be simple and a hobby everyone can do.

What warrants a collection?

Four. Four bottles of nice ageable wine are all you need to deem yourself a “collector”. And no…buying a 6-pack of wine from Safeway in order to get their 10% off deal doesn’t count as starting a collection. You don’t need to have a basement full of dusty bottles either.

The simpler the better. A small collection of nice wines that will age well and increase in value (taste or monetary) over the years is a great way to start.

Have a goal

Have a goal in mind as to why you are collecting the wine. Are you collecting wines in order to have a nice bottle of wine to grab during those special occasions like engagements or college graduations? Are you collecting wines from your favorite winery because it was the best wine you have ever tasted? Some people even collect wines, have them regularly appraised, and resell the world’s most sought-after wines for big bucks.

Keep your goal in mind when buying wine.

Where do I start?

Start small but keep your wines high quality. You don’t have to spend hundreds on a bottle either, $40-50 is plenty to find a wonderful wine ready to sleep for the next 5-10 years in your basement.

Go wine tasting. The best way to really get to know a wine is to go straight to the source. If you are lucky enough to live near a wine region, go for a weekend wine tasting trip and bring back the start of your collection. Many wineries of Reserve wines or library editions available at the tasting rooms that you cannot get in stores. You can also ask the tasting room attendant which wines in their series are the most age-worthy. These professionals are a great resource, take advantage!

Don’t live near a wine region? That’s okay, just make sure you are able to taste your wine before you buy! Never buy a bottle of wine to cellar without tasting it first. Go to your local wine bar and ask to do a tasting or a flight of their wines. Buy your bottles from there or write them down and head to your local wine shop.

Learn more about why you should start collecting wines.

Which wines are age-worthy?

The age old question…which wines are age-worthy? Let’s break it down.

Have a special occasion coming up within the next five years? Have some older vintages in your wine collection that will be ready to open then. Keep a lookout for “Reserve” wines. These wines were aged in the winery before release.

Red wines

Contrary to popular belief, not all red wines are good for cellaring. Red wines that are age-worthy should have bold tannins, high acidity, and a rich flavor profile. Pinot Noir’s and Gamay’s are delicious but don’t age well past five years. They just don’t have the structure to hold up to aging.

As wines age, their tannins soften, their acidity lessons, and their flavor profile evens out. Keep that in mind before buying.

Red wines that are great for cellaring: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Bordeaux blends.

White wines

Many people solely focus on red wines when aging, however, there are some white wines that age very well! Focus on white wines that either have seen oak or are off-dry.

White wines that are great for cellaring: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay

Sparkling wines

Sparkling wine is a questionable one. The safest bet is to drink sparkling wine within six months of bottling time. However, there are some traditional Champagnes that do age well. They have enough of a yeasty component to age the wine and keep the flavor profile.

Dessert wines

Port, Sherry, and Ice Wine oh my! Dessert wines are some of the best wines for aging and can keep up to 20 years!

Click here to learn more about how wine aging works.

How much does it cost to start a wine collection?

If you spend $50 per bottle and $100 on a proper wine storage system, that would equal $300 to start a legitimate collection. Keep in mind that you don’t have to drop all this money right away, but some disposable income will be necessary.

Invest in proper storage

If you don’t have the perfect dry, dark, and cool basement already in your house, then you will need to invest in some proper wine storage.

Check out these affordable top-rated wine storage systems that will make a great addition to any home without taking up all of your storage space.

Track your inventory

This isn’t necessary, but tracking your wine is a great way to know the worth of your wine and add to your hobby a bit.

Here are a couple of great wine cellar apps that will help you keep track of your personal collection, from your everyday wines to your fine wine collection.

Buy what YOU value

Just because something is in everyone else’s cellar or highly rated in Wine Spectator, doesn’t mean it needs to be in yours. Buy what you like and what you value. Don’t buy something that you won’t enjoy drinking later. Some wine collectors are often focused on the monetary value, however, you should personally enjoy the wines you are collecting.