Lionel: Recently someone asked me what they should do to start a wine cellar at home. He had just moved into a new house and was thinking of converting a storage room into a wine cellar. Now, in my simple mind, building a wine collection means always having a good bottle on hand. You can go the next step and buy wines for aging, but that's not necessary: Since nine and a half wines out of ten are sold ready to drink—and even some traditionally age-worthy reds from Bordeaux and Burgundy are delicious when young—there's no need to put aside most bottles for extra maturation unless you want to.
With regards to storage I believe that as with doctors, the primary rule of wine storage is "First, do no harm." The two conditions that most threaten wine are direct sunlight and extreme heat or cold. Try to keep bottles someplace dark and cool (preferably, between 8 and 14 degrees Celsius). And no your bedroom with the air-con coming on and off is not going to be good enough!
Your wine collection will quickly come to reflect your personal tastes, but the suggestions here may be helpful for beginners. They cover a range of choices, from inexpensive bottles to pop open on a Friday night with left overs to age worthy wines to pull out when that special someone you want to impress drops by.
What to buy
Fallen Angel Methode Traditional Brut This sparkling wine from New Zealand has the right mix of richness and verve to partner with everything from spicy Asian food to fried chicken.
Dom Perignon 1999 From the legendary House of Moet, arguably the most famous cuvee prestige champagne in the world. What else can you say that hasn’t already been said before. The dryness, snap of acidity wil work with fresh seafood, Tim Sum, Sushi . Must have!
Wolf Blass President Selection Chardonnay 2006 This soft, juicy Australian white is less overtly rich than many of its Oz rivals. Refreshing, with aromas of sappy yellow apple and lemon.
Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc 2005 From New Zealand’s famed and cool Marlborough region, this white has a lean edge and a fresh finish, with a touch of varietal herbiness and pineapple.
Saltram Estate Wine Makers table Shiraz 2007 This red-cherry, spicy white pepper Shiraz makes this Australian red firm with lots of plum-currant flavour. Oaky but harmonious.
Chateau Pouget, Margaux 2003 In the Cabernet-dominated Médoc, this interesting cru classe winery has had a renaissance of sorts. As a result, this aromatic red from a excellent vintage is very supple. It's tasty now and will age well for 8 to 10 years.
Alex Gambal, Nuits St Georges Les Peuliers 2000 From a vintage noted for abundant fruit character, this luscious red Burgundy is scented with violets and licorice and something like sun-baked black cherries. Vibrant now, it will reward 10 to 15 years of aging.
Rustenberg John X Merriman 2005 This sleek new wine from South Africa was crafted full of black fruit, violets, vanilla icing and spice.
Quinta de Noval, Silval vintage port 2000. Vintage Porto can require years to mature, but this wonderful wine, is ready now. Rich,sweet and full of cinnamon and candied-plum flavors.
Alex Gambal Puligny Montrachet 2004
The wine is generously voluptious and compulsively drinkable, with a lovely expression of peach, citrus, melon, butter, honey and wildflowers. Plus if you can pronounce the name, you will impress everyone!