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Where Our Passion for Wine & Accessories Is Shared
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About Winston's Wisdoms
Winston, the endearingly drawn gent you see raising his glass, has been the Wine Enthusiast logo for nearly 30 years—and the symbol of unsurpassed expertise in wine accessories and storage.

Winston's Wisdoms Blog is the place where our experts share their knowledge and answer some of the most commonly asked wine-related questions. It's the place where you can ask questions and share insights from your own wine experience. We welcome your feedback and invite you to offer your wisdoms to wine lovers everywhere!

Top 10 Necessary Accessories For the Big Game

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 at 5:13:09 PM
by Marshall T., Wine Enthusiast Companies

This Sunday is notorious for being the biggest party day and hedonistic gorgefest of the year. With the big game imminent it’s time to start thinking  about what you’ll need on hand for all the football fans that are about to invade your home. We have compiled a list of the essentials necessary to make your party the best on the block! The only downside may be that after its great success, you may unwillingly be labeled as the pinnacle of all football party hosts. So if you are able to handle that responsibility, we present you with the Top 10 Necessary Accessories for your SB Party!

10. Microbrew Peanut Brittle – This salty sweet treat is perfect for beer , wine and football fans alike. It was crafted in the heart of California wine country and made with a hint of hops. Beer and peanut butter all in one delicious mouthful… who wouldn’t love that?!

9. Wine Cork Cheese Spreaders – Whether cheddar, blue or mozzarella are on the menu, these spreaders are perfect for your game day appetizer cheese platter.

8. Wine Chicken Cooker – It’s as easy to use as it is attractive and will cook one of the best birds you have ever tasted!

7. Vintage Oak Party Chiller – The best way we know to keep all your white wine, champagne, beer, soda and water cold and ready to serve a big party.

6. Wine Glass Writer Metallic Pen – The ideal tool to make sure no one snags your glass of vino!

5. Silent 28 Bottle Touchscreen Wine Cellar – To ensure all your wines are being properly stored prior to the game, as none of your guests are going to want to drink warm wine.

4. Spiegelau Classic Beer Glasses – Choose from the Pilsner, Lager or Wheat style depending on what kind of brew you are serving for the game.

3. Giant Red Wine Stem Cooler – Because it’s… GIANT!!!

2. Stainless Steel Champagne Bucket – The perfect vessel to chill down the bubbly for the post game victory celebration!

And the #1 absolute necessity for your Football Fiesta……

1. Wine B’gone – Quickly fix any couch or carpet casualties with our handy wine stain remover. It’s a long game and let’s be honest…your guests are going to spill some wine!

Of course we can’t forget that even with the necessary accessories, you still need something to drink. So as a special bonus  from our wine shop partner:

The Top 5 Gridiron Selections

5. Enamore 2009 Mendoza, Allegrini & Renacer – Both Amarone and Malbec fans will go nuts for this joint effort. A big wine on all fronts!

4. Archstone 2008 Chardonnay, Napa Valley – For under $15 it’s tough to find a better Napa Chard that will pair up with all those spicy and greasy finger foods.

3. Seghesio 2010 Zinfandel, Sonoma County – A consistent 90 Pt + Zin, this is a perfect match for those hot Buffalo wings or BBQ spare ribs.

2. Moonlighters 2007 Red Blend, South Australia, Red Heads Studio -  This innovative Cabernet blend is a tremendous value and will pair with everything from cocktail weenies to  Filet Mignon.

And the #1 Wine for this year’s Gridiron Gathering is…

1. Silver Oak 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – Because YOU will be the MVP at the end of the game for serving this iconic Napa Cab.

Tell us what you plan to serve on Sunday! And what are your necessary accessories for the big game?

Products That Tell Your Wine, “I Love You”!

Thursday, January 26th, 2012 at 4:00:12 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

With Valentine’s Day only weeks away, it’s the perfect time of year to appreciate the people (and wine!) we love. No doubt we will all be opening a special bottle on the 14th, but I’d like to highlight some of the products that will heighten your love of wine all year round.

Here are some personal favorites. Which wine gadgets and wine accessories do you own that tell your wine, “I Love You!”?

Label Savers – One of our all-time best sellers, label savers are a quick and easy way to make lasting memories from a special bottle.  Sold in sets of 10, these nifty laminators work by separating the front printed surface from the adhesive back of the label.

Cork Kits – Another classic product, we have offered cork kits in all shapes and sizes from coasters to barrel hoops for decades. And with our new heart-shaped option, there is truly love in the air!

Riedel Black Tie Bliss Decanter – An elegant wine decanter is the perfect way to let your wine breathe. Your love of wine is perfectly represented in Riedel’s unique design with its heart-shaped cutout which also serves as a pouring assistant!

Eurocave – One of the most infinitely rewarding wine investments you can make, a Eurocave will cradle and protect your wine for years to come. Show your collection some appreciation with the world’s finest wine cellars, crafted in France.

WineHug Self-Inflating Protective Travel Pouch – If you love your wine, the last thing you want is for it to fall victim to the bumps and bruises of travel! The WineHug acts as a life jacket for your wine, so you can take it with you everywhere you go!

Good Wine Glasses – Wine needs to express itself and the best way to do that is with the proper stemware. Our Fusion line is not only beautiful , but break-resistant! Your beloved bottles will be at their best in these glasses.

Bathtub Wine Bottle Chiller – Your wine gets to relax as it chills in our whimsical bathtub wine chiller. White wine lovers, this one is for you!

An Aerator – Whether a finer, a breather or a funnel suits you, aerators allow your wine to mix and mingle with the air around it! Improved aromatics and softer tannins will be the end result. Your wine will thank you!

Meet Our Wine Storage Consultants: Lou Ann Hesch

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 at 10:31:35 AM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Last week we introduced you to Marshall Tilden, one of our expert Wine Storage Consultants who doubles as a Sales Manager here at Wine Enthusiast. This week meet Lou Ann Hesch who has been building beautiful wine cellars and helping customers here for 15 years! Lou Ann grew up in a very Sicilian family and developed a love for “the fruit of the vine” by selling tomatoes by the pound as a kid. She also enjoyed visiting her Grandfather’s grapevines.

What was your “Epiphany” wine? 
Historically my frame of reference has been homemade Italian red wine. Shortly after joining the Wine Enthusiast, I had the pleasure of joining our team at a famous New York steakhouse for dinner and a bottle of PETRUS was opened and I was mesmerized!

What is the most memorable Wine Cellar you have built?
I built a 1,300-bottle wine cellar complete with racking, artwork, custom doors and cooling. I was elated when I heard these words from the happy owner: “It exceeded all of my expectations, and I can’t help but smile each time I enter the room.”

What is your favorite Wine Storage Product and why?
Of course I love custom racking! The building environment for wine excites me! I especially enjoy creating a cellar that reflects the homeowner’s style and taste.

How do you store your wine?
My Eurocave is 12 years old and in mint condition. I am so proud to sell our products and I am reminded of this each and every time I walk up to my unit.

If you had to give 1 wine storage tip, what would it be?
It will taste better if you store it right and storing it right will change your life and passion for wine.

What have you drank lately that wowed you?
I adore big reds, particularly from California, but I make it a priority to be wowed each time I drink wine !

Meet Our Wine Storage Consultants: Marshall Tilden

Thursday, January 19th, 2012 at 5:07:30 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

For over thirty years, we at Wine Enthusiast have been building beautiful wine cellars for our customers. From speaking with hundreds of wine lovers a day, our team has unparalleled insight into what makes customers happy. Whether you are building a 2,000 bottle custom wine cellar for your home, have a 100+ bottle collection and need a freestanding cabinet to put in your garage or have 20 bottles you are looking to properly store, our experts are here to help.  It’s time to meet our Wine Storage Consultants! Or, as our Facebook audience likes to call them, “Masters of Coolness”, “Wine Angels” and “Liquid Happiness Storage Facilitators”!

Announcing our new series: Meet our Wine Storage Consultants. First up, is Marshall Tilden. Marshall has been at Wine Enthusiast for over 6 years. You may recognize him as the star in many of our product videos. Marshall also has a great blog called Westchester Wine Guy, it’s worth a read!

What was your “Epiphany” wine?
I actually have two of them…and both were from the same vintage. The first was a 1996 Gevrey Chambertin that I had at Spark’s Steakhouse in NYC. Never had I experienced a wine with such texture and intense flavor. The other was the 1996 Jordan Alexander Valley Cab which was one of the best California wines I can remember tasting to date.

What is the most memorable Wine Cellar you have built?
It is actually a Wine Cellar that is currently under construction. It is going to be a 10,000 bottle cellar for the new R’evolution Restaurant located in the Royal Sonesta Hotel in the heart of New Orleans. This is Rick Tramonto’s latest venture and the cellar should be nothing short of spectacular.

What is your favorite Wine Storage Product and why?
As I think you will find this same answer from most of our Wine Storage Consultants, it would have to be the EuroCave line of Wine Cellars. Quite simply they provide the best storage climate for properly aging your wines when considering all the enemies of wine (temperature fluctuation, humidity, light and vibration). They are also super quiet and last forever, plus the flexible shelving system allows you to store any size bottle…literally!

How do you store your wine?
EuroCave Performance 283…I have about 180-200 bottles including a 6 Liter of ’04 Chateau Tabolt and a 3 Liter of ’04 Oracle’s Miner.

If you had to give 1 wine storage tip, what would it be?
Not all wine is meant for aging. So make sure you do your research and drink your young wines early and give only those better bottles the time they need to fully evolve.

What have you drank lately that wowed you?
My latest obsession is the 2007 Donnachiara Taurasi DOCG. I am totally amazed by the complexity and versatility of the Aglianico grape. I also thought the 2008 Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Cab was possibly the best value of the vintage.

Follow Marshall on Twitter @WE_Marshall !

What’s Your New Years Wine Resolution? Wine Enthusiast Staff Responds

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 at 2:23:22 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

New Years Resolution

Just a week into January, I wouldn’t be surprised if plenty of folks had already abandoned their New Years Resolutions. This is the time of year when we promise to be at the gym at 6AM and eat more vegetables. But how about some fun resolutions that may last the whole year and beyond?
We asked some of the biggest oenophiles here at Wine Enthusiast, for their New Years Wine Resolutions. Check them out for inspiration! And share yours!

“To store my 100+ bottles in one central place (that’s safe from my son’s curious hands!) instead of in various wine racks scattered in our dining room.” – Christine, Internet Marketing Manager

“To take a crack at making some wine of my own. After learning so much about the process and having seen it done, I’m itching to get my hands a little dirty and seeing what I can produce…and also to continue my wine education.” – Marshall, Sales Manager

“To learn how to use my waiter’s corkscrew with finesse, despite the fact that my lever-style faux Rabbit is so much easier to use!”—Danna, Copywriter

“To take more notes – even just quick ones in my phone at dinner – to get back into using the lingo and so that I can build a greater memory of specific wineries, varietals and regions. “ – Jacki , Manager of Communications

“To try a new wine every week, especially from lesser-known-regions.” – Richard, Marketing Analyst

“Mine is to utilize my aerators more often. I’m embarrassed to say that usually I’m too excited to dive in to the bottle, that I don’t take the time to maximize the wine’s full potential!”—Erika, Director of Internet Marketing

“To drink more Cru Beaujolais. The QPR is through the roof! And I like the style.” — Josh, Wine Director

“To bring out my Riedel Sommeliers and uncork a world class Cab or Bordeaux – no special reason – on a Wednesday night perhaps. Life is too short to wait for a special occasion!” – Mike, Business-to-Business Manager

“To update my inventory and have some people over to drink what needs to be opened!”- Todd, Wine Storage Consultant

BYOG? Bringing Your Own Glassware to Restaurants, Now Celebrity-Approved!

Thursday, December 29th, 2011 at 12:04:26 PM
by Jacqueline S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Dining out and bringing wine is a common habit for some.  Whether a special night and a reserved bottle or a casual weeknight out – bringing your own wine has many perks. We have discussed BYO etiquette in the past in our our Five Golden Rules of Bringing Your Own Wine. But those who think of cost-cutting as #1 where BYO is concerned might be amazed to see celebrities in the mix.

Photo Credit: NY Post

This past week the media has been buzzing about a new BYO trend started by the singularly named icon – Madonna. Last week Madonna was spotted at a restaurant with her current boyfriend Brahim Zaibat, in New York City. A celebrity sighting like this, though exciting to some, doesn’t usually make its way into the wine blogosphere…until now. Madonna’s main squeeze was not all the mega pop star arrived with – she also came with a bottle of wine and glassware in tow.

Though BYOB is common, BYOG  is an entirely new take on the trend! Perhaps Madonna has something here! When bringing that special bottle out it can be a disappointment when the waiter clunks down a sad looking footed-cup.  The vessel can make or break a wine experience. Proper glassware is key to wine enjoyment.
Wine-for-Two Bottle and Stem Tote  
One of my favorite products for a BYOG night– is the Wine-for-Two Bottle & Stem Tote. This all-in-one bag can hold two bottles of wine, two beautiful stems and all the gear you’ll need to pop the cork! For your stems we recommend the Fusion Classic Chardonnay for their durability, versatility, size and elegance. We’re not positive that Madonna actually used this ingenious tote and stemware for her BYOG dinner, but we’re certain it is material-girl-approved!
Have you ever brought glassware to a restaurant? Have you ever wished you had? Tell us in the comments below!

Put the ‘Fun’ in Functional: Items for Holiday and Beyond

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 at 12:49:22 PM
by Danna S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Why should kids get all the fun of opening toys? Adults like gadgets, too. At least we can justify them by their function and practicality.

So from stocking stuffer prices to more expensive items to give your loved ones or yourself, here is a wish list for the wine and spirits enthusiast.

CorkcicleCorkscicle Wine Chiller
This icicle shaped chiller attached to a cork (hence the name Corkcicle) is an easy way to chill wine without having to tote an ice bucket. Simply open your pre-chilled wine bottle, pour out just a sip’s worth to avoid overflow, and insert the pre-frozen Corkcicle into the bottle.

Vinturi Spirit Aerator
From single malt whiskies to blends, an aerator opens up the taste. The Vinturi aerator has a built-in jigger with volume markers and push-button flow control lets you measure and aerate at the same time. No more wondering what amount equals a shot or a “finger.” This model includes a no-drip stand. Try the aerator with other spirits and liqueurs such as tequila, Cognac, Port, Bourbon, vodka,
gin, rum, brandy, and sake.

iSi Twist ‘n Sparkle Carbonated Beverage Maker

This has a wow factor and it gives you another option to serve non-alcoholic drinks to family and guests. It is mechanical, not electric so no plugs or batteries.
Pour a chilled beverage into the bottle, insert an iSi® soda charger, and twist. It eliminates boring sodas and wasting plastic from store-bought bottles. It works with fruit juices and iced teas; cocktails and wine coolers. It can even make fizzy desserts such as ice cream or sorbet floats. The starter kit includes: a bottle, carbonation wand, 3 C02 cartridges, and a recipe booklet. Bottles and cartridges are BPA-free and phthalate-free plastic, and stainless steel, respectively. Extra cartridges and bottles can be purchased separately.

skybar™ Wine System

The skybar™ Wine System chills, pours and preserves wine. The unit chills wine to its ideal serving temperature, while patented vacuum technology naturally preserves your favorite wines for up to 10 days. It has preset temperatures for 9 wine types/varietals, or you can use the manual controls.

The skybar™ Wine System’s three-bottle unit has digital temperature readings for each chamber.

A sleek spout smoothly pours directly into your glass without disturbing the natural sediment in the wine bottle. The chambers keep bottles free of any foreign substances, which can alter flavor and aroma. No expensive replacement cartridges are needed.

Any of these gadgets make fun gifts that any wine lover would be proud to own!

Our 2011 Gift of the Year

Thursday, November 17th, 2011 at 4:26:33 PM
by Danna S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Announcing Wine Enthusiast’s Gift of the Year 2011: 6-Bottle Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator6 Bottle Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator (2011 Gift of the Year)

Our team has chosen our 6-Bottle Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator for many benefits other than its sleek design.

It is compact and meant to sit on your countertop for convenient, easy access. Thinner than a microwave and quieter than a traditional wine refrigerator, it uses state-of-the art thermoelectric cooling. The three chrome shelves pull out for easy access. It’s available in classic black, or a clean, crisp white. Both have stainless steel trim.

And the next best feature is price. We are running a special holiday offer until December 26. The introductory price is $99, and shipping is free.  Plus, for great advice on filling your new refrigerator with the best wine, we’ve included a two-year digital subscription to Wine Enthusiast Magazine with your purchase.

But don’t take it from us, we’ve won many accolades from other publications.  The Wall Street Journal gave us the number one rating for their top small wine coolers under $150 and Consumers Digest selected our 12 Bottle Wine Refrigerator as a Best Buy

If you were curious, our past recipients of our Wine Enthusiast Gift of the Year include the EuroCave SoWine Home Wine Bar and the Silent 12 Bottle Dual Zone Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator.

We could think of no better gift item than our 6-Bottle Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator to be named our Gift of the Year 2011.

What features do you look for in a wine refrigerator? For more gifting ideas, visit our newly revamped gift center.

What is Ambient Temperature and How Does it Affect Your Cellar?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 at 4:42:34 PM
by Marshall T., Wine Enthusiast Companies

If you look at the specifications for any of our wine refrigerators you may notice a reference to the maximum ambient temperature. Simply stated, this refers to the highest surrounding temperature that a unit can handle while still holding proper wine storage temperature. This can play a major factor in not only deciding which unit to purchase, but where in the home it will reside.Silent Wine Refrigerator 12 Bottle

Many units are only capable of functioning in a “living space”, which means an area where the temperature never rises above 77 degrees. Such units include our Silent Line of wine refrigerators or any unit utilizing thermoelectric cooling.  The reason is that while these units are extremely quiet and efficient, thermoelectric technology cannot withstand extreme temperature fluctuations like some of our other units. The highest temperature differential they can really handle is about 20 degrees, so as the surrounding temperature rises above that 77 mark, so will the temperature inside the unit.

Wine coolers or cellars that use compressor systems are able to hold temperatures under warmer conditions, usually up to 80-85 degrees depending on the specific unit. The parts tend to be made with more durable materials, and the use of refrigerant not only helps these units to function in those warmer areas, but to last longer than the thermoelectric units. Most of these units are similar in function to the refrigerator in your kitchen, a good example being our N’FINITY Line of Wine Cellars.

ThermometerMany people choose to put their refrigerated wine cabinet in their garage, and for those living in extremely warm or cold climates it can be a little risky. Only the EuroCave units are truly able to handle those ambient temperatures around 100 on the high side and close to freezing on the low side. The technology behind EuroCave’s cooling system includes both cooling and heating coils as well as super insulated aluminum interior walls, which allow these units to function in almost any environment.

So if you have a unit in an area that is on the warmer side and it doesn’t seem to be holding the right temperature, you may want to determine if the ambient temperature is just too high for the kind of wine cooler you have. After all, protecting your prized wine collection is the main reason you purchased a wine cellar in the first place! So it’s best to be sure that it is sitting somewhere that it can maintain the right temperatures, allowing your wines to reach their maximum potential.

If you have any questions on which unit may be best for your particular situation, contact one of our wine storage consultants at 800-377-3330

How to Organize Your Wine Collection: Tips and Tricks from the Wine Enthusiast Staff

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011 at 1:32:45 PM
by Marshall T., Wine Enthusiast Companies

As a wine collector, your method of cellar organization can either be a source of efficiency or confusion. There are many ways to categorize your collection and it may take years to perfect the system. Whether your collection is 12 or 12,000 bottles, everyone has their own method. We asked Wine Enthusiast employees how they organize their collection, and came up with plenty of answers! Let’s discuss some of the most popular ways, and our personal take on each.

Wine Collecting Tips and Tricks

BY REGION – This is the most common method people use to organize their wine collections. Each region has very distinctive soil and climate characteristics that influence their wines. So when reaching for a bottle to pair with a certain dinner, the region of origin is often a first thought.

My wines are organized by country, and I use Wine Enthusiast bottle tags to label and organize them. They are obviously also separated into whites, reds, desserts and fortified sections. Labeling and organization is important….anything that helps ensure I don’t have a moment of insanity when in a rush and crack into the bottle of Bond I was holding instead of the value Malbec I meant to open! – Susan Kostrzewa, Executive Editor

I organize my wines by country and then region, with each country assigned a different colored bottle tag. All my wines are also included in an excel sheet with all of the information (brand, vintage, variety, appellation, country, price, score, location in my cellar and proposed date to drink) so I can sort and find a wine based upon my mood. – Lauren Buzzeo, Assistant Tasting Director

I sort my wines by region and then by what fits the best side-by-side. Since there really is no exact science, it may take a few times to get your configuration the way you want it. I keep some vintage Champagnes and odd-sized bottles (Turley) on the adjustable shelves and my mags and splits of Port on the very bottom where the compressor is.  The ½ bottles sit nicely on the oversized ones (like a crib)-  David Moseler, Racking Supervisor

I organize my wine by country or region. I call my wines a “single bottle collection” and enjoy the wonderful convenience of the Eurocave rolling shelves that offer me full visibility and accessibility to all my wines. My favorite shelf has great names from California …you know , “I wish they all can be California! “  Big, Bold and Beautiful ! – Lou Ann, Wine Storage Consultant

- If you are a new collector, it may be simplest to separate just by color. Sometimes sparkling and dessert wines are separated as well. With a small collection, advanced classification systems may not be ready yet.

I have a credenza with two sections so I simply keep my reds on one side and my whites on the other. I find it easy enough currently to quickly peek at the bottles on each side to find something appealing. I do like to keep sparklers and dessert wine on the bottom though, when I have them. –Erika Strum, Internet Marketing Director

– It is very common for collectors to store their reds and whites in separate areas of their cellar or wine refrigerator. But some will take it further and group each grape variety in the same area. This way when they are specifically in the mood for a Chardonnay, they know exactly where to find it.

I have tried a few methods to organize my Eurocave Performance 283. At first it was strictly by varietal, but when it’s full, this eventually becomes more difficult. Say you pull a bottle of Cab and then the next bottle you get to put in the cellar is a Pinot Noir. Without a whole lot of shufflling, the only place to put it is with the Cabs, so over time a certain varietal ends up spread all over the place. So now I have a list that is organized by varietal and each shelf is assigned a number and the shelf number is noted on the list so I know exactly where to go.– Todd La Chance, Wine Storage Consultant

EuroCave Performance 283

BY BRAND – If you tend to buy in bulk, then you certainly want to keep wines of the same brand stored together. Many folks will even have verticals of their favorite wines, which means they have bottles of the same wine from consecutive vintages.

I have shelves for each region, and for regions where I can break down varietal I do that by shelf as well. I group similar brands and verticals together and have one bulk storage shelf for the really long term stuff… whites go on the very bottom.– Marshall Tilden, Sales Manager

BY PRICE – Most collections will contain a variety of different quality levels of wine. Some are meant for everyday drinking, others meant for longer term storage. Typically the less expensive wines will be consumed early in their life, while the more expensive juice sometimes needs many years before it is ready to drink.

I like to think that my ‘Cave has various zip codes.  There is a high-rent district at the top and a low-rent district at the bottom for the whites and freebies I have amassed over the years.  And there is a middle class where I keep my everyday drinkers. -Glenn Edelman, VP of Marketing

I also have a stack of bottles at the bottom of my unit that is a mix of things that are less expensive everyday stuff. Another reason for that stack in the bottom is that if I am not around and my girlfriend wants to have a glass, she can pull from there and I don’t have to worry about her opening my 2007 Mondavi Reserve.- Todd La Chance, Wine Storage Consultant

There is no best approach to organizing your collection, over time you may find yourself taking an integrated or hybrid approach. Start with organizing your wines by region, as they will probably feel more comfortable around their brethren. You can then segment based on red and white, and even further by specific varietal. This way your Napa Cabs are separate from your Napa Zins and your California Pinots are not mixed up with your Oregon Pinots.

Next you can get the vintages grouped together to make sure you are drinking the right wines at the appropriate times. Finally, make sure your brands are all grouped together and if you really want to go nuts, go for the alphabetizing. After all, an organized wine collection can bring you years of pleasure and fulfillment.

How do you organize your prized collection? Do you use one of these methods or do you have one of your own that you would recommend others to use? We would love to hear about it!