Wine Management The Butler’s Way

Keeping a good wine logistical system like a private Butler does demands a specific set of skills. In a wine cellar or in a wine cooler unit, a proper wine management system is appropriate. Actually, it is a necessity, a must and an economical and protective way of keeping your bottles of ‘holy beverage‘ in the perfect environment.

Whether it is a private household or a bigger facility, the importance of keeping a good wine system is crucial. Storage, purchase details, bottle history and bottle travel is important of course.

Knowing vintages and having a fair wine insight is also elementary.

The four mantras of a wine connoisseur

Interest, reading, tasting, listening are the four mantras of a wine connoisseur. Interest needn’t be explained, if you keep wine then you either have a passion for the product or simply enjoy investing in specific wines.

Reading for getting more and more knowledge of specific regions and variations, tasting for developing a repertoire of food and wine matching.

Listening to hear what other opinions are concluding and to take away key points to further expand your cellar.

In wine management, logistics is the main element. Keeping a bottle and bottles are not rocket science, but is more of a case of planning, anticipation and common sense.

Some wines are not to be stored, but ready to drink. That means that you should drink it within a year or so. Other wines are supposed to be stored for years and years. Then it is crucial to follow other opinions, the producer’s recommendations, and other wine-connoisseurs notes and tips.

Nothing is more upsetting/frustrating than a good bottle of wine going down the drain.

There are a plethora of wine websites, magazines and books on the market. Most newspapers also have their weekly recommendations, wine-critics popping up on TV programmes or in various internet articles, and they often have a decent insight into the happenings in the World of wine.

Here are some tips for managing your wine logistics:

  • First of all: Have a cellar or cooler unit ready which is able to keep a consistent temperature. These temperatures are 10-12 degrees on whites, and 12-15 on reds (Celsius scale.), or if in a cellar, the normal cellar temp.
  • Be aware of direct lights or windows. Your bottles need a soft-dark and a slightly humid environment.
  • Always have your storing bottles lying. The cork should always be in contact with the fluid.
  • Leave the bottles with the labels visible if possible. That way you do not have to touch or move them for seeing what is what
  • Leave your bottles untouched as much as possible. Dust is patina.
  • Setting up and organising a wine rack is a nice way of making a logical logistic system.
  • Find your way of storing in terms of ABC, grape varieties, country, area, vintage or producer. Make small wine labels to put on your wine racks.
  • If your favourite wine is a «ready-to-drink» bottle, do not buy in large quantities. The wine is probably peeking it`s best soon, and then it is better to wait for a new vintage.
  • Have a wine-log book available. Note down, dates for buying, where it is bought and price that was paid.
  • When buying and storing bottles for the years to come, buy at least two or three identical bottles. That way You can test one before serving the other.
  • In your log-book, note down when the wines are recommended to drink. If testing, share your notes with others in the household.
  • If buying more expensive storing wines, get all the information you possibly can from the retailer. Things such as cork problems, tasting notes, travel history, storage history from producer to retailer etc.
  • When finding your favourite wines, read and follow the brands, area, producers as much as possible. Knowledge is power for wine-management. You can find many across social media such as Instagram.
  • Never get lost in vintage recommendations. There might be differences and good buys even for a rather poor vintage.
  • When testing a bottle from your storage, plan ahead! Lift up the bottle and let it stand for at least 24 hours – Check history, notes and serving tips from others – Do a real decanting process if it is recommended.
  • Note: Decanting is recommended for almost all wine bottles. Very old bottles can be best directly in the glass as they can go off rather quickly. There will then be sediments in your glass, but nothing which could jeopardise your health.
  • Always write tasting notes in your wine-log after tasting. It will help you with your next choice or timing of a bottle opening.

A lot of people also collect liquor bottles. Be aware that there is a different way of storing these. Mostly they keep best when standing; while being kept in the same environment as wine bottles.

Liquor does not develop any peculiarity when storing, but after decades, a bottle of brandy, for instance, can develop in small instances. This includes colour deepening, and softer in taste, as small hints of air slowly get access to the inside of the bottle.

So manage your wines as you would manage your bank account, see to it that your assets always have a good environment for development. It is better to manage well than to get the bitter-sweet taste of tomorrow.

Wine is the only artwork you can drink – Manage it well.

Tore Berger, F&B Consultant & Butler

Written by Tore Berger: F&B Consultant & Professional Butler founder of Berger Consulting 

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