Saturday, February 11, 2006

Wine Storage Systems Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty

Okay, I feel like I've spent hours and hours going over information, and I'm narrowing it down for our own wine cellar.

In the meantime, I've also created a kind of review of the companies out there, and the products they offer. I'm going to put it into some kind of organized format and then see which companies offer the best products based on my needs.

You can do the same thing when you want to create your own wine storage system. I'll share my program with you and you can customize it for yourself.

I'll have it up in a few days.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Mmmm...what's the perfect wine with oysters?

Oysters are a speciality here on the French Riviera. You can find them raw or cooked in champagne, or grilled or baked -- or fixed in a hundred other ways. Here in the Mediterranean, presentation is almost as important as taste.

The perfect wine with oysters is probably a dry chablis. However, a perfectly acceptable alternative is a Pouilly Fouisse -- at least if you're eating them raw. (And I happen to prefer Pouilly Fouisse to chablis, so it's always my choice!)

For a great Website about Poully Fouisse wine, go here:

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Wine Storage Systems -- Creating Ambiance

Is creating a certain ambiance important when planning your wine storage system?

I think so. I mean, I'm not necessarily looking to throw parties in my wine cellar, or use it as a hideaway to get away from the kids on those days when I think I'll go mad if I hear "I'm bored!" or "When's dinner?" or "What's for dinner?" one more time!

But at the same time, I don't want the wine cellar to be a place where you keep looking over your shoulder and expecting some guy with a mask and a chain saw to come creeping out of the corner either!

I think a wine cellar should have a certain dignity. It should have a certain sturdy and secure kind of feeling to it as well. And it should be light enough that you can find your way around without needing a flashlight, and so you can actually read the labels on the wine bottles until you find the one you're looking for.

I think I mentioned putting a table or wide shelf in there that's about counter top height, strong enough to set a case of wine on, and make it easier to stock your shelves, or put a couple of bottles while you're choosing exactly the right vintage for the occasion.

I've even decided I'm not going to have the dirt floor covered in our wine cellar, because I think it adds to the ambiance...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Have you ever wondered where wine corks come from?

Have you ever wondered where wine corks come from? Just check out these half-naked cork oak trees and you'll figure it out. The cork is harvested from the trees, and it eventually grows back...but in the meantime, the trees are left looking undressed!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The best wine storage system beauty pagent

I've spent the last three days looking over information about the best wine storage system for our wine cellar. And after looking at Websites, and brochures and reading piles and piles of literature, I decided that the makers of wine storage units, wine coolers, wine refrigerators and wine rack systems are like contestants in a beauty contest and I'm one of the judges. (And after looking at all the different entrants, I've decided that I'm a sucker for a pretty face...)

It amazes me how incredibly beautiful some of these wine storage systems are -- I mean I've got pictures of everything from simple shelves to hold 20 wine bottles -- made with oak, all the way up to this handcarved, handbuilt wine storage armoire...and it's made of teak. I think the ultimate though is a "walk in wine vault" that combines advanced cooling technology, an electronic inventory management system, insulation, racking and lighting -- and it's self-contained in a "spacious unit" that can be (so it says) installed in less than a day! And its selling price? A mere $30,000 U.S. -- don't believe me? Check it out here:

I've also been looking at storage shelves or racks to store our wine glasses. I need something that's utilitarian and can hold wine glasses of different sizes, but I want something that looks good too. In other words I want it all -- beauty, brains and brawn!

I've found with some of these storage units, beauty isn't just skin deep. There are units that are specifically designed to keep your wine bottles from being moved or jostled, and that will keep the temperature of all of your wines to within 6 degrees of the "perfect" temperature no matter what time of year it is.

One of the biggest questions I've got though is about the number of wine bottles we want to store. Buying a complete wine storage system for our wine cellar isn't an investment we're planning on making every couple of years. So I have to consider how many bottles we have now, and think about how many we might collect over the next several years. And I need to plan ahead by thinking of how I want to store the new wine bottles we're going to buy...and keep the inventory organized, especially as it grows, and as we drink the wine.

So, using my beauty pagent comparison, I guess you could say that I'm starting to narrow down the contestants. Some of the wine storage systems just aren't going to make it to the finals.

I know there are so many things to look at, besides how good the wine storage system is going to look -- I guess I have to go beyond the "swimsuit contest" and see what kind of answers I get in the "interview" component!

Well, I'll keep you posted on how it's going and who's getting the highest scores!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Wines of the Rhone Valley

Here's a picture of the medieval St. BĂ©nezet Bridge, taken when we went to Avignon a few months ago.

The Rhone valley is well known for its wines -- both white and red. Of the wines we tried, I think my favorite was a red from the Châteauneuf du Pape. It was a vibrant peppery red, and went well with the garlic roasted lamb we had for dinner.

The Rhone Valley is climatically and geographically divided into two regions, the north and south. This picture, taken under the shawdow of the austere and brooding Palace of the Popes, where the Catholic church was ruled for 100 years in France.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Wine storage units and cabinets and coolers - oh my!

Wow...if you're serious about buying a new wine storage system, or you are looking for a cabinet to store your wine in, or you've decided you need a wine cooler or refrigerator -- don't be surprised if you get confused or overwhelmed!

And that's not even counting all the really fun accessories! For example, I've absolutely fallen in love with this "professional" wine opener -- it pops the cork so easily -- no more cork pieces floating in the bottle of your wine!

Seriously though...I found this totally awesome pre-built complete wine cellar -- it's its own little wine cellar, made from golden oak wood and built in shelving inside.

Of course, I don't need that, I'm really just looking for new shelving and organzing systems,'s hard not to look and dream when you start checking out all the websites!

And then there are these beautifully designed and built wine cabinets -- in every imagineable style (and price range).

I'm actually starting a little excel database, to keep track of the models I like the best, and their prices and the features they offer, because I can already tell that with I'm going to forget a lot since there's so many different types to choose from!

I'll let you know how it goes, and what I find. (I'll also let you know about what I don't and offer product reviews in upcoming posts).

Again, if you haven't done so already, go and check out Laura's site to get some great ideas for what food will go perfectly with your wine.