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Five Tips for Starting Your Wine Cellar

By Alyssa Rapp, the Founder and CEO of Bottlenotes.com, the premier online wine community where wine enthusiasts come to learn about wine, share tasting notes, and buy wine. Alyssa is also the author of Bottlenotes Guide to Wine: Around the World in 80 Sips.

When starting your life together as newlyweds, what better way to begin your married life with “date night” over a bottle of wine? By starting your future with a new, shared hobby: wine tasting? The key to these fun ideas is to also start to build a small wine cellar of your own- so when date night or the next dinner party comes around, you have a small but meaningful selection of wines from which to choose. So, here are five tips of how and your special someone can start your wine cellar. As they say, friendship, love and marriage, like fine wine, get better with age….

1. Think about how you will use wine in your daily life
Are you a couple who loves to entertain? Or, are you and your loved one the “great bottle of wine with a great piece of pizza” types? Both? The answer to these questions will determine whether or not you “should” start a cellar with multiple bottles of the same wine (for entertaining), or a cellar with an array of “stand-out” single bottles.

2. What type of wine drinker are you?
Are you and your loved one a couple who routinely sips on an aperitif before opening a bottle of wine, or a duo who jumps “right in” to a bottle of red wine to begin an evening? The answer to this question will determine the “mix” of how much white vs. red wine you should have in your starter cellar. (If you routinely begin an evening or a dinner (party) with a bottle of white, keep it ~50-50.)

3. Have at least one bottle each of sparkling, rose, and dessert wine on hand at all times.
A wise woman once told me that a lady should always have a bottle of bubbly chilled, on hand, at any point, for the unexpected celebration. Such also holds true for the happy new couple. Similarly, you might find yourself in a situation where your spouse’s sister Annie only drinks rosé, which is why you might want a bottle of it on hand. And what if your first dinner party as a happy new couple goes so well that you want to keep the fun going? A bottle of Port of Sauternes is perfect night-cap.

4. Buy Beautiful Stems
Robert Hall, CEO of Bottega del Vino Crystal, coined the phrase “If the wine matters, so does the glass.” A beautiful glass can make a $10 bottle of wine drink like a $50; a lousy glass can mask the awesome experience of a $50 bottle. For this reason, great stemware is an extremely worthwhile investment- and a lynchpin item for every starter cellar.

5. Let space constraints govern what portion of your cellar includes “wines for today” vs. “wines for tomorrow”
If you are in an apartment in Chicago, New York or San Francisco and are investing in your first wine refrigerator while starting your cellar, best to start filling your cellar with “wines for today.” If you have a bigger wine fridge, or access to a true cellar (you own or rented or borrowed), then best to of course balance your wine needs for today vs. tomorrow.

Best of all, you can register for wine, including a “Wines that Age with your Marriage” Gift Pack at Bottlenotes.com! www.bottlenotes.com/registry will take you there. We’re always happy to help you select wines for your “starter cellar,” a wine bridal shower, or even your wedding itself. Simply contact info@bottlenotes.com and we’ll happily serve as your guide into the world of wine. Cheers!