How to start a wine cellar with $250

STARTING a wine cellar or collection can seem a daunting task.

If you're a regular wine drinker chances are that the beginnings of a cellar or collection happen almost organically: leftover bottles from dinner parties, a present from friends or family or perhaps a purchase from a weekend away to a winery.

But how do you go about methodically and consciously starting a wine cellar or collection within a budget? And even then, keeping that budget to a fairly low figure: $250.


Photo Think Stock

Where do I put the wine?


Regardless of what wine you buy or how many, storing the wine is absolutely critical. Get this wrong and within a short space of time, you'll end up with wines well done before their prime. And with our budget, buying a temperature controlled wine storage unit such as a "Vintec" is out of the question.

Wine likes to sit quite still, in a dark, cool-ish place. It doesn't have to be Antarctic cold and old fridges often have vibrations that'll shake the life out of your wine. Under the house, unless it's deep below street level and a true "cellar", isn't such a good idea either. Australia is a hot country, there's no denying it. So, find a spot, away from light and temperature fluctuations, preferably in the corner of the most south-east spot in your home.

Do I need a fancy wine rack?

Sure they look great and having the labels on display is a good way of keeping up to date with what you've got. Kmart sells a basic six-bottle rack for $6, so we'll take two. You could also ask your local bottle shop (when you buy the wines) for spare, solid empty six-pack boxes or timber boxes. Often they'll give them to you for nothing, but remember the bottle sizes you'll be storing. They don't look as pretty as a rack, but are functional.

How many should I buy?

Buying only one bottle isn't a great way to start a collection. Buying a dozen of one wine isn't great either, so we're going to look at 4 x 3. That way, you can drink one in the short-term, which will give you an idea of how long to leave the other two bottles.

How do I know what to buy?

Look for "regional heroes" and proven performers: Barossa Valley Shiraz, Hunter Valley Semillon, Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare Valley Riesling, Yarra Valley Chardonnay. There are always exceptions to the rule, but if there's an abundance of a grape type grown in that region, chances are it has a solid track record. Vintages are also important. Generally 2011 wasn't great for reds in South Australia, but wonderful for the Hunter Valley. In 2014, there was reduced quantities but good qualities in the eastern states. Western Australia may as well be another country with the great run of vintages they've experienced.

Will I like it in five or 10 years' time?

If you are able or lucky enough, try before you buy. Seek older wines at tastings or if on offer at a generous friend's place. Hunter Valley Semillon starts lean and lemony but, with age, develops deep honeyed toasty qualities. Clare Valley Riesling may start as lime soaked razors across your tongue, but grows rich and broad with lanolin/kerosene-like tinges. Coonawarra Cabernet as a foal is frisky with eucalypt aromas and blackberry, with stallion age comes cigar box and a soy beef stock maturity.

A good bottle shop should be able to give guidance on wines with potential to age, don't be scared to ask. Some wines will have a recommended cellaring time on the label, and this is usually a good guide and having three of each will give you the opportunity to check in on the progress.

Can I buy the wine now?

Now you just need a visit to a reliable bottle shop, or have access to the internet and your credit card. The wines I've chosen are a personal preference and I've given options for one red and one white, but generally speak to the rule of region, variety and price. Feel free to be guided by your own tastes.

How do I keep track of my cellar?

You can use pen and paper; an Excel spreadsheet; or a free website or smartphone app such as CellarTracker. Record the winery, wine, type, vintage/year, number of wines you have and drinking window (if known). I find recording price is optional. Just remember, if you drink a bottle, then take it off the list. Good luck and enjoy.

Topics:  editors picks wine

Timeline given to Jetty Foreshore development plan

The State Government is starting a community engagement process over the development of crown land on the Jetty Foreshores.

Have your say on the continued development of the Jetty Foreshores

What's on this week

Save the date for the Coffs BCU Tri.

Check out the latest events happening on the Coffs Coast.

Mum would rather another crash than getting caught in a rip

CLOSE CALL: Woolgoolga local Kathy Haines (centre) and her two sons Nickolas and Jamie were rescued from a rip at Woolgoolga's Main Beach at the weekend.

A mother of two is lucky to be alive after being pulled from a rip

Local Partners

Snowboarder's new world record of 150km/h behind a Maserati!

Reckon the snowboarders at the Olympics are fast? How about one towed by a Maserati!

Calls for kids to get a bit of cents

Finder.­ has found that Queenslanders aged 18 to 25 have more debt than those over 25. Picture: File image

Experts calling for greater “financial literacy” to be taught in schools

Join Ivory Crush protest against elephant products

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL: Sharon Pincott, pictured with Willa, says the world's largest land mammal is in trouble.

Conservationists are heading to Australia's first Ivory Crush

Skoda Superb wagon is spacious and nimble — the anti-SUV

Skoda Superb Wagon 162TSI.

Why drag an extra half a tonne of useless, expensive metal around?

5 words you are using incorrectly

VOCABULARY: This do would never homework where the word icon was incorrectly used.

How to avoid sounding like a teenager, even if you are one

Live where the rivers meet the sea

Come inside Raine & Horne's Property Pick of the Week

Property is off to a hot start for 2018

HOT PROPERTY: This Diggers Beach property sold for $1.295-million

Agents make a series of sales in the million-dollar bracket