PRO-TIP / for new wine collectors

Leah Jorgensen Jean


One of the common complaints I hear from my customers and wine club members is they’re finding themselves stuck with too much wine. They say – I can’t drink the wine I have at home fast enough!

This is, in fact, a common problem to have. But the interesting thing to glean from this common problem is an important question: you’re stuck with having too much of what kind of wine? That’s not a trick question but a prompt to guide consumers in making more mindful purchase decisions.

You may not realize it, but if you have more wine in your possession than you can consume within a week or so, then you are collecting wine. Collecting wine isn’t a bad thing! Collecting wine is a savvy way to buy, enjoy and even age certain wines. And with careful practice and study, one can evolve from collecting wine to investing in wine – that’s a whole other topic I’ll get into another time.

To get to the basics for beginner collectors, I try to help demystify the collecting process and encourage financially healthy, mindful habits. That starts with taking a more holistic look at the wine bottles in your possession and organizing them appropriately. This practice will prevent a lot of disappointment from holding on too long to bottles that won’t age and, ultimately, losing money. Disappointing bottles past their prime add up to financial loss quickly. Dumping wine down the kitchen sink never feels good.

Basically, when you’re starting out, consider there are two kinds of wines in your possession: wines that need to be consumed in the short-term and wines that you can actually age for the long-term.

Most wines in the market are not going to age for a very long time.

In fact, most wines really should be consumed sooner rather than later. Just because a wine is expensive does not mean it’s going to age beyond a few years. You really need to learn about what makes a wine age (by grape varietal, barrel regime, winemaking technique, etc.). And just because a winemaker makes a wine with an age-able grape varietal doesn’t mean their winemaking techniques will impart the capacity for aging. So, there’s a bit of guess work when you’re first getting into understanding what makes a wine age well. But you can learn how to assess a wines aging potential and start to make better wine purchases knowing you’ll store x amount of bottles for drinking in the short term and collect a larger portion of wine for aging in the long term.

I have a worksheet on which white and red varietals that have the greatest capacity to age long-term – available in a FREE downloadable workbook for those who take my Masterclass on Cabernet Franc & Collecting Wine (the course will be available online soon).

Another important way to learn if a wine is meant to age is to get to know the producer. If you are able to have a relationship with the winemaker, even better. They should be able to tell you which of their wines, if any, were intended for long-term aging. If the winemaker doesn’t know if their winemaking techniques enhance the capacity for a wine to age, then that’s potentially a red flag.

This is something I talk about often with my customers – they can feel confident about purchasing my Cabernet Franc wines because they are all meant to age. I made them with longer term aging and collecting in mind. My reserves have the aging potential of 20+ years. I literally use time as a tool in my winemaking toolbox. I can write another blog explaining how and why I make my Cabernet Franc reserve wines to age.

So, if you take an inventory of your current bottles and the majority of the wines in your possession need to be consumed pretty quickly – then you might be stuck with too much wine. You know your own drinking habits and if you’re one of those consumers who “can’t drink the wine they have at home fast enough” then you might get stuck with wines that will sit in your cellar (wine rack, basement, etc.) well beyond the unofficial expiration date. Which means you will be disappointed when you eventually get to those wines and open them up and discover you wasted your money. Not because you bought wines that aren’t good – but simply because you bought wines not meant to age expecting them to be okay for an unspecified amount of time on your wine rack.

Now, if that’s the case, if you have a lot of wine in your possession that will not age, then you can throw a party or donate some of the bottles to charities. Don’t let them go to waste – share them! There are so many gorgeous wines meant to be consumed relatively quickly. Enjoy them or give them away! But if you buy too many of those wines, now is the time to make some changes.

Build your collection (wine rack space, basement, etc.) with wines that will actually age so that there’s no pressure to get to those bottles right away. The bonus is that many collectible wines evolve with age and will delight you! Then buy a realistic number of bottles of wines that you love that won’t age for very long that you can get to in a reasonable time. Enjoy those wines first! Hold on to the bottles that will age.

Choose delight over disappointment.

It seems simple, but it takes some time to put this into practice.

Not sure how to get started? Get to know a trusted wine merchant and buy wine from them – and be very clear about your goals to separate wines from those to drink within a year and those that can age five years plus. If you live near a wine country, or like to visit wine country, get to know producers you like. Join mailing lists and wine clubs. But, before signing up do your homework and find out if those wine clubs will be sending you wines that can age. Don’t get stuck with a wine collection of wine that’s not collectible. Factor in what bottles will go into your ready-to-drink storage and what can go into your collection for aging.

Once you master this, you won’t fall into that pattern of complaining about having too much wine.

Another pro-tip – once you have committed yourself to collecting, be sure you’re storing your wine properly. Temperature, location, bottle position – there are a few important things to know when you intend to collect and age wine. Here’s a great guide to help you improve your at-home wine storage.

Also – when you buy my wine online I send a postcard with my recommendations for how to properly store my white/rosé and red wines.