Here I don’t talk literally about how to create a wine cellar but about a wine stash or a stock that will adequately accompany you on any occasion.
While you are still discovering the wine world and have not defined your own wine style, there is nothing left for you to explore – varieties, countries, ways of wine, wine houses, styles, etc. In any case, you should drink, drink and drink because that is the only way to develop your own palate. Your taste will change – what you liked at the beginning may taste deliciously unacceptable at a later stage, and that’s quite ok. It would not be a bad idea to choose a reference wine that you will always go back to and really notice with your own eyes/mouth/nose how much you have progressed or how much your palate and taste palate developed.
In any case, the most important thing is to buy wines you like (or think you might like). This is certainly the best way how to create a wine cellar. I mean, if you like fruit and sweet wines, then it is logical that you will not base your wine fridge on mineral and salty wines. Also, buy wines that match the food you cook and consume every day. Someone who bases their diet on vegetables and rarely eats red meat certainly should not have an abundant supply of robust red wines, and vice versa.
Two bottles per label are enough to get you started. To assume that you are limited by space, therefore, the wine collection should be cleverly arranged. In larger stocks, only collect wines that are, for some reason, hard to reach or completely inaccessible – whether they can be purchased exclusively from winemakers or produced in small quantities.
Furthermore, in my opinion, it is somehow logical to start your stock of wine with local wines for a simple reason – get to know your country to prefer it. Joking aside, look at local wines as the foundation of your wine knowledge. For example, the Slovenian wine scene is really diverse, and today we can honestly say that it is of high quality, well developed and that it follows world trends. The restaurant scene indeed confirms this because most restaurants base their offer on local wines. Besides, isn’t it a point to drink wine that you know who made it and where exactly it was made? Of course, wine connoisseurs find the same point in foreign wines, but this text is not intended for them. They certainly already have their own cellar and know all the secrets of collecting wine.
Let’s Start With Champagne.
As Lily Bollinger of Champagne House once said: ” I drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m now. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have a company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it … unless I’m thirsty ” – and I agree that there is simply no opportunity for the champagne to not go well – before a meal, during or after a meal, with some nice snack or no food at all – no mistake. If you are a fan of bubbles, make sure you have at least these 3 types: Blanc de Blancs – which is 100% Chardonnay, Blanc de noirs – white sparkling wine from black grapes (always very much appreciated!) – in principle from Pinot Noir (can also Pinot Meunier) and one good rosé sparkling wine (of any variety). They come in grades from dry to sweet or, in wine jargon, from brut nature to doux. My recommendation is – the drier, the better, but of course, it depends on personal preference. If you can afford it, choose a millésime or vintage sparkling wine where the year is defined. The year is emphasized and written on the label only when it is an exceptional year, and then you are sure that the grapes are exclusively from that vintage. Otherwise, sparkling wines are made from wines from many years, in which case they are considered non-vintage sparkling wines. Be sure to choose those made using the traditional / champagne method.
Then the Classic – Chardonnay
They say that the first wine most of us come across is Chardonnay. There is almost no place in the world where wine of this variety is not made. And there are just as many styles. Although some marketers will say that the market is saturated with Chardonnay, we cannot deny that this is one of the most respected varieties in the wine world. Both in the world and here in Slovenia, we can find different styles of this wine from different regions – from fresh from stainless steel, structured from wooden barrels to natural and macerated. Whichever option you choose, Chardonnay is a safe choice and one which should find a place in your basement.
What About Riesling
What is not quite surest, or everyone’s darling is Riesling. Not because it is not popular but because it needs some knowledge to understand. Give yourself time to figure it out. Like it or not, Riesling certainly belongs to the basics of wine culture. Plus, they’d be surprised how nice it is to pair with food. Younger and fresher specimens are suitable for all seafood (especially raw shrimp – mmmm, a perfect match!) And more light food (chicken, vegetables). At the same time, the more severe and older wines of this variety can accompany mushrooms, cream sauces, and even aged cheeses.
Sauvignon Blanc is another classic. It has a specific taste (green apples, asparagus) and aroma (the best specimens smell like a cat’s pee), but it is also really versatile.
Rosé wines are a story in themselves, and it’s really hard to talk about the variety, let alone recommend the style of the wine. Plus, I don’t think that’s necessary anymore because rosées have really become very hip wines, and by now, you’ve probably found your favorite. What I personally love about these wines is that they can accompany you from early lunch until late into the night. Fresh and fruity or full-bodied, it is essential that they are served cold. They are a “must-have” in every wine fridge. Here, feel free to forget the two labels per-bottle rule.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a red counter to Chardonnay – a wine that is made all over the world in different styles. And it has its lovers, but again – some of the world’s most respected wines are those with the Cabernet Sauvignons to a greater or lesser degree. This welcomed guest of any wine rack/wine list/wine cellar is a truly unmistakable choice for those who often enjoy red meat. There is almost no Slovenian cellar that does not contain this variety, and there are just as many styles. Green peppers, dark berries, violets, tobacco – these are all the flavors we find in Cabernet Sauvignon. It definitely goes into the must-have category. For those whose Cabernet Sauvignon is a little too hard, try to replace it with a softer Merlot.
But how to create a wine cellar without Pinot Noir? No basement without Pinot Noir. It’s a wine that, just like Riesling, requires knowledge of the matter to be loved, but once it comes into your skin, that silkiness and elegance – no help. I say this because Pinot Noirs are among the most expensive wines in the world. It goes without saying that the biggest wine connoisseurs drink only champagne, Riesling, and Pinot Noir.
Sugar at the end – sweet wines. Personally, I’m not a fan, and I always somehow find an alternative to sweet wines, but that’s just my opinion. Sweet wines are generally enjoyed at the end of the meal – with dessert (beware that it is not sweeter than wine) or fine cheeses. Although, in my opinion, they somehow fit best with foie gras.