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Wine Storage: A Cautionary Tale

January 16, 2011

It feels like a lifetime ago that I had a decent wine collection.  I had a large rack that I kept in an interior closet, that was cool, dark and neither too wet nor too dry.  At its peak that closet probably held about 100 bottles of wine.

For most people there are only two things to worry about in regards to wine storage.

First, there is this one universal wine no-no. Second, you may hold onto a bottle for far too long.  That is why there is Open That Bottle Night.  And it’s happening soon, so start thinking about what you’ve been saving for that very special occasion that never seems to come.

For the most part, wine storage doesn’t need to be a fussy affair.  For a few very serious collectors it makes sense to invest in temperature and humidity controlled cellars.  But almost everyone else can make do with a cool and dark closet.

My cautionary tale does not date back to this golden age of my wine rack, but rather to less than 48 hours ago, just as I was taking my roasted root vegetables out of the oven to bring to a potluck dinner.

I thought it might also be nice to bring a bottle of wine.  Big mistake.

Since leaving California, my wine-buying obsession has abated.  There are too many reasons to go into now.  But just like my liquor cabinet, my wine is now constrained to a much smaller space.

We have a pair of heavy wood bookshelves that each have a cabinet on the bottom.  My wine bottles call one of these cubbies their home.  And it’s not so bad.  I can still keep on hand over two cases worth of wine.  But they are a bit packed in there.  It’s like one of those wine bins that are sometimes on display in retail stores or restaurants.

Did you ever see The Shining?

Well, as I was pulling out a bottle of wine on Friday, some of the other bottles shifted.  I heard a clunk, and then the unmistakable sound of glass breaking.  Before I could move an ocean of red wine started pouring out of the cabinet and on to the taupe carpet underneath.

There never seems to be that much wine in a bottle when I’m pouring it into glasses.  But really, the volume of one bottle being poured onto your floor as fast as the liquid can flow is a bit shocking.

Mrs. Fussy called up our hostesses and told them we would be just a little bit late.

As concerned as I was about the mess, I was even more concerned that the broken bottle might have been one of the older, irreplaceable wines that we’ve been holding onto for a while.  Thankfully the wine that was sacrificed was a deep dark purple recent vintage of Malbec.

But the lesson has been learned.  Wine comes in glass bottles.  As strong as they are, they can break.  And while I will not be setting up my old wine rack in the house any time soon, I am going to be A LOT more careful about manipulating the bottles in the cabinet.

The upside is that the bookshelf now smells very pleasantly of wine.  However, I owe a debt of gratitude to Mrs. Fussy for:
a)     Not freaking out about the carpet
b)    Helping to clean up the wine and glass
c)     Staying calm as I freaked out about being late
d)    Letting me sleep in on Saturday as she finished the job

Thank you.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex permalink
    January 16, 2011 1:06 pm

    nice. thoroughly enjoyed this post and all of the links. i’m definitely in the small liquor cabinet group -I’ve just got seasonal things (rum & brandy for making egg nog left over from the holidays) plus things I know I like – 12 year old Glenlivet, and Richard Pastis. will be looking into open that bottle night!

  2. January 16, 2011 1:13 pm

    My husband got one of these for Christmas one year. You can get them in different shapes/sizes/prices, and we’ve found it to be really great. My uncle recently got one that holds 24 bottles, but the 12 bottle one works well for us, as we have a free-standing rack as well to put our “surplus” wine.

  3. January 18, 2011 4:43 pm

    A number of years ago our middle child was leaping from couch arm to large, free-standing wine rack and managed to pull the entire rack down. I do believe there were 7 bottle that smashed, fortunately none were overly special and he didn’t get hurt. Had he been hurt, he may not have been able to, some weeks later, bring a large tree limb in from the back deck (which he promptly brought into the house vertically, of course) and get it caught in the ceiling fan in the kitchen in such a way as to bring down the entire hanging rack of wine glasses. Count your blessings.

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