Since I started collecting wine, I have maintained a personal wine list (tracked in Microsoft’s Excel program) to keep track of all of my bottles. All of my friends who have wine collections also keep up-to-date wine lists. If you do not have one, I suggest you take the time to complete one. They are handy if you need to insure your wine collection and they can help you “brag a little” about your great collection.
There are a couple of things you need to consider prior to starting your list:
- How do you plan to store your wine?
- How many bottles do you plan on storing?
- 25-200 selections (bottles) is considered a short wine list
- 200-500 selections is considered a medium wine list
- 500 selections or more is considered a long wine list
- Questions to address about your wine inventory:
- What is it going to be made up of? For example, is it going to be random sections of lots of different types of wine?
- Where do you intend to buy the wines? Online, wine stores, wineries, direct, grocery stores (I hope not).
- Is the list going to have a regional emphasis? Are you going to feature mostly California wines, French Wines, Italian or is it going to be tailored to your general menus at home?
- Will you have mostly reds or whites?
Personally, I have always tried to have a balanced wine list. I will admit to having a lot more red wines than whites and more New World wines than Old World. However, my lists are very diversified with many producers, grape varieties, winemaking styles and vintages.
How you organize your personal wine list will depend on how you answered the above questions.
To create a personal wine list you can use restaurant-level software, find various wine applications online, or create an Excel sheet. In a pinch you can even hand-write your list if you aren’t tech-savvy. Some online applications are free and others ask you to pay a monthly fee. Here are some of the most popular and listed in order of preference by wine collectors:
Cellar: It’s known to be a very basic app as it simply tracks basic inventory. There is a 60-day trial period. If you decide to continue using Cellar it costs $10 per month or $100 for the whole year.
Cellar Tracker: This app is a companion to an online service that is available at cellartracker.com. The software provides a lot of information. It is one of the best apps available to manage your wine collection.
One of the reasons I mentioned you need to think about what information you wanted to list, such as vintage, vineyard, etc., is that Cellar Tracker has many categories. Some are free and some require monthly payments. The company asks for a voluntary donation of $160 per year. If paid, I believe this fee will cover all categories.
Snooth Wine Pro: This software mainly focuses on searching for new wines and tracking wines you have already consumed.
VinoCellar: This is one of the most in-depth apps available. They claim to be the Cadillac of wine cellar apps. However, it is a very difficult software to use and tends to wear you out trying to use it.
Vinoteka Classic: This software is developed by a Czech company. It comes in three versions. The first two are not worth the effort since they only manage a small number of bottles. I discovered in my research that several of its features are very limited.
As I mentioned earlier, I use Excel to create and maintain my wine list sheet. I know a number of other collectors who have done the same thing. Let’s take a look at mine and then the list that my friend and sommelier, Tom Welsh, has created for himself.
My wines list tracks the following information:
- Wine’s rating
- Quantity of bottles
- Average market price
- Total value of the wine
I start with white wines first, then Rieslings, French red wines, Italian red wines, Australian red wines, other red wines and finally American red wines. I try and keep the wineries in alphabetical order starting with the oldest vintage first. The reason I start with the oldest vintage is to see how many bottles I have in what vintages. If I have 6 or more vintages it is called a vertical.
Depending on the wine you may want to have as many verticals as you can. There are two reasons to collect verticals: First the wine is more valuable and second it is great fun tasting verticals.
There are a couple of other items you want to get from your wine list. Certainly, you want to know how many bottles you have and their overall value. Depending on the size of your wine list you may need to get it insured. The carrier will want a copy of the list with as many details as possible.
My good friend Tom Welsh uses the following categories to track his wine list:
- Wines rating
- Drinking window start date (example: 2020)
- Drinking window end date (example: 2030)
- Type of wine, red, white, etc.
- Type of wine
- Where it was purchased
- Size of the bottle – small
- Size of the bottle – large
At the bottom of his wine list he has calculations that tell him:
- What percentage of his list is from a specific country
- What percentages are red, white, sparkling and dessert
- How many different varietals (grape variety) he owns and if the wine is a single blend
The perfect format for your wine list is whatever works for you. As long as your list provides the information you want and need, is organized consistently and gives relevant details on your wine, it should work well. Also, if you do create the wine list yourself you are always able to change or add to the format at any time.
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Look Forward To These Happy Things:
Upcoming LEX 530 Events!
Oktoberfest Dinner – Tuesday, September 22, 2020 – with Elkhart’s Iechyd Da Brewing Company
Artisian Wine Dinner in Partnership with LEX 530 – Wednesday, October 7, 2020 – held at Artisan
Special Guest Winemaker Wine Dinner – Friday, October 23, 2020
LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner – Friday, November 20, 2020
Important Wine Holidays
September 3 – International Cabernet Day
September 18 – International Grenache Day
November 7 – International Merlot Day
November 12 – International Tempranillo Day
November 18 – International Zinfandel Day
December 4 – Cabernet Franc Day
December 20 – National Sangria Day
December 31 – National Champagne Day