Dear Forum Members,

I have been collecting wine for a few years now and wondered what people's opinion was on how many bottles you need to own to consider yourself as having a "cellar". Over the years I have built stocks in reserve heading for 700 bottles, mainly Bordeaux, Rhone, Southern France and Port, but is this a "cellar"? This is also held in reserve with a couple of reputable merchants so not in hand (probably the only reason it has accumulated).
Forum members thoughts on this would be very interesting.

Thanks in anticipation of some healthy banter!
Alan
 
Well, a Cellar is two different things, Alan, isn’t it, and I probably fail the pedants on both counts. First, I own something slightly less than you do, Alan (currently somewhere between 650-680 estimated).

Second, my house is on a hill, built with three levels on the bottom floor. My wine is stored below ground level at the front yet entered on ground level at the back. So not really a true Cellar, though with bare brick and wood above it has a climate only marginally warmer than a true cellar.

FWIW I call my physical wine my “wine collection”, and where it is kept, “the Cellar”. But as you can see, I’m no pedant.
 
How long is a piece of string :). Having a cellar or not is more about a state or mind than the quantity of bottles - i.e. are you laying down wines for the future to drink them in a mature phase rather than having a stash of wine for immediate drinking.
Especially at times of the year like Easter (when there’s a holiday or two) you get even good wine merchants and specialist retailers sticking something on social media along the line of “we are closed on...so get your order in before it’s too late...” or words to that effect. As if people who buy wine mail order by the case, or even visit specialist wine shops, are just buying what they need, day by day.

I’m guessing the majority here are probably trying to buy more than they drink, and are probably dreaming of a wine cellar, whether r not a physical one or just a large stash?
 
I think a cellar can be:

1) A physical space, which will always be too small for the amount of wine which you need to keep in there, and into which you can go to look at and caress bottles, and maybe even select a bottle for drinking. (But more often than not end up taking a different bottle than you wanted, when you realise the bottle you wanted should have been stood up a week beforehand to allow the sediment to settle. Or perhaps that's just me.)
2) A nebulous concept covering all the bottles one has purchased, wherever they might physically be.

I don't think you can have 2 without 1, so a cellar probably needs to contain more bottles than you will drink before you next buy any more wine.
 
Having a cellar or not is more about a state or mind than the quantity of bottles - i.e. are you laying down wines for the future to drink them in a mature phase rather than having a stash of wine for immediate drinking.

Agree - and therefore it can be a relatively small quantity - possibly less than 100 bottles.

Wine is intended to be drunk, preferably with good food and good company - not 'collected', so I recoil from calling my 'cellar' a wine collection. The term calls to mind of things produced to be collected (like most stamps since the mid 1960s) or toys that bought, packed away, and never played with.
 
I've tended to approach this question a more mathematical way: how many bottles do I realistically need to own, based on rate of consumption and how long I age the bottles. Discounting mid week drinkers, if I average 2 cellared bottles of nicer wine each weekend, plus special occasions, that's, say 120 cellared bottles per year, times 12 years' average ageing, gives me a magic number/target of 1500 bottles. I'm not yet half way, plenty of work still to be done.
 
Spot on Kevin - I heard that very definition thirty odd years ago, and it’s stuck with me. I think the exact phrase used was “well chosen bottles” , Hugh Johnson perhaps?
 
Some great comments here on this subject.
Like most I dont have as much as I would like to have but hopefully it will never be empty.My "cellar" is pretty low just now with 35 or so bottles. In many ways thats a good sign as I have been drinking but not buying much recently.
 
A cellar is a (potentially quite large) number of different wines, stored in wine-friendly conditions, which you can access at will. It must be diverse enough to enable you to select a wine for drinking at any time, to match your mood or the needs of the moment.

It gives pleasure, because it is a repertoire, from which you can draw your actors to make up an evening or a lunch as the whim chooses.

It may contain wines you don't touch for years, but they are always there in case a change of mood music might require that they be brought up out of the locker. And one of the delights of a cellar is that wines you have neglected for years can suddenly swim back into focus, now perhaps deliciously mature, and ready to astonish you and your guests. You wonder how you could have ignored them all those years.
 
I've tended to approach this question a more mathematical way: how many bottles do I realistically need to own, based on rate of consumption and how long I age the bottles. Discounting mid week drinkers, if I average 2 cellared bottles of nicer wine each weekend, plus special occasions, that's, say 120 cellared bottles per year, times 12 years' average ageing, gives me a magic number/target of 1500 bottles. I'm not yet half way, plenty of work still to be done.
That method might ensure you have a wine to hand with the right level of maturity, but not necessarily of the style that goes with what you are eating. So you need to increase the number you calculate by some sort of fiddle-factor. You might need to invent a more technical sounding term than fiddle-factor when you explain it to your partner, and also be prepared to explain why it keeps increasing with time.
 
A cellar is a (potentially quite large) number of different wines, stored in wine-friendly conditions, which you can access at will. It must be diverse enough to enable you to select a wine for drinking at any time, to match your mood or the needs of the moment.

It gives pleasure, because it is a repertoire, from which you can draw your actors to make up an evening or a lunch as the whim chooses.

It may contain wines you don't touch for years, but they are always there in case a change of mood music might require that they be brought up out of the locker. And one of the delights of a cellar is that wines you have neglected for years can suddenly swim back into focus, now perhaps deliciously mature, and ready to astonish you and your guests. You wonder how you could have ignored them all those years.

Couldn't be explained better. But I think it's already a cellar when " building " it. And a cellar imo doesn't accept to be empty when you die. It should be a multigeneration project.
 
As others have mentioned a cellar is anywhere that you store bottles of wine for drinking in the future. As I live in two different countries I have a number of cellars. Two in South Africa and two in UK. . One cellar is professionally stored and the other at my home in both countries .
 
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