Category Archives: Cellars

The Three Bottle Lot

Years ago (like 20 years), when Dave and I were just getting into wine, the Liquor Commission Board of Ontario (LCBO)  came out with a program to introduce people to wine.  Each month, they would recommend wines that they suggested you buy in 3-bottle lots:  one to drink now, one to drink in a year, and one to drink some time later, based on the aging potential of the wine.  These wine recommendations were in the back of the magazine, and came with great write-ups about the wine, along with articles about aging and storing wines. The goal was to document your thoughts about each bottle, and compare them, so you could understand the effect that bottle aging has on wines, and why you might buy wines that aren’t even ready to drink yet.

We still practice this to this day.  Every time we identify a wine that we’d like – perhaps through Wine of the Weekend or WineAlign, we buy three bottles, drink one right away and put the other two away. Of course this means you need somewhere to keep the wine, like in a dark corner in the basement – or even better, a wine cellar. And it means you need some discipline to let it sit for a year or two.  Not that we have that much discipline – but we found that if you have lots of bottles in the cellar, you’re ok with letting some of them age, as there’s always something else to drink :-).

What’s the value of this?  It’s a pleasure to enjoy a good wine, but to see it age and become even better with time is even more special.  You feel more ownership and pride in the wine – after all, you’ve safeguarded it while it worked on becoming its best. It elevates drinking wine from just slugging back something to skew reality, to a practice of appreciating something that’s grown in special soil, by special people, in a place that you’d love to visit. It gives you the ability to learn to identify what you like, how it will complement your meals and make them more enjoyable, and where you should spend your precious wine budget. And if you’ve stumbled on a truly exceptional wine, it gives you something amazing to look forward to.

Why not give it a try? Next time you’re off to buy a bottle of wine, pick up three.  And let us know how that works for you!


Why build a wine cellar?

If you drink mostly wine, then you should think about a wine cellar of some sort.  It might be as simple as a wine fridge you buy from somewhere like Home Depot, a larger, a specialized wine cabinet, or even an actual cellar that you build out with shelving and climate control.

Why build a wine cellar?

  • It lets you get to know a wine more intimately:  buy 3 bottles, drink one now, and cellar the other two for future enjoyment. We usually drink #2 a year later, and #3 might wait based on the winemaker’s recommendation.
  • It protects your investment – if you’re spending money on wine, then you need to provide optimum storage conditions so that it will keep and improve with age.
  • It allows you to take advantage of great deals or special buys, like we often find with Opimian or with the Vintages section of our LCBO. You can buy it and keep it.
  • It allows you to experience the wine in the way the winemaker intended.  Many wines just aren’t ready to drink when they’re bottled, and need multiple years in the bottle to mature and turn into something really magical.  If you don’t have somewhere to store it while it matures, you’ll never get that experience.
  • It means you never have to rush out to pick up a bottle of wine.  If we’re going to see friends, we ask what’s on the menu then make our choice based on that.  Each Thursday, we review what’s in the cellar, what needs to be drunk, and what we’re planning to cook – then make our choices for the weekend based on those variables.
  • Wine is a wonderful hobby to share – shopping for wine, sharing the tasting experience, and even creating vacations around wine tasting gives us something we’re both passionate Our wine cellarabout, and enjoy doing together. But coming home with a vehicle full of wine means we need somewhere to put it.

Our house had a great cold cellar in it, which we happily turned into a wine cellar – it’s home to about 250 bottles, which seems to be our peak.  Our next home will be smaller, though, so we’ll probably move to a wine cabinet.  Doesn’t really matter, as long as the wine is properly kept, so we can enjoy the process of acquiring it, then tasting it only when it’s ready!