Wednesday, February 21, 2007

65,000 bottles of wine on the wall

~A friend recently told me about a story in the New York Times concerning a man who uses 8,000 square feet of cellar storage space to house his 65,000-bottle wine collection.

I suppose the New York Times must have had to fill some space of its own. I also suppose that whichever reporter submitted the story must have been impressed. I further suppose that the cellar is designed to be impressive.

I can only suppose these things because I haven’t the slightest interest in reading that story or any other story about what, to me, is a gross misuse of such a lovely product—to collect it for the sake of collecting it.

~A quick turn of math indicates that if one person drinks one bottle of wine each day it would take that person 170-plus years to consume 65,000 bottles. So, do you think this collector has any intention of drinking all that wine?
~ I suppose it’s possible he isn’t too good at math and he just miscalculated, but that’s got to be my biggest “suppose” of this post.

The guy can count; how else would he figure out that he owns 65,000 bottles of wine and that his cellar measures 8,000 square feet?

~In my wine career I meet people with too much money, too much insecurity, and way too much space in their cellar.
~Generally, the encounters go something like this:

Collector: “Oh, so you are in the wine business. I’ll bet you get to taste some of the great wines.”
Me: “Well, to me, a wine that gives me the greatest pleasure is the one that pairs well with my meal.”
People trying to impress often don’t listen.
Collector: “Sure, sure. My wife wishes I had never heard of some of the great wines because she thinks I spend too much money on them at the auctions.”
Me: “She may be right about that, if all you do is collect them.”

~I do it that way because I have learned from experience that if I encourage the conversation to continue I will soon start hearing about the collection, about all the wildly expensive bottles of wine from vintages dated before Christ!
~Then, I will be subjected to information about the cellar: how large it is, how much the temperature control system set him back, how many bottles are in the collection, and of course the names—oh, the names, the endless parade of names and vintage dates and on and on...
~These are the people who make my task difficult, which is to make wine drinking a daily habit in America, alongside another daily habit—dinner.
~When I heard about this latest wine bottle collection I had just reached into my five-case wine cellar for a bottle of Rioja to pair with my chorizo and yellow rice dinner.
~Later, after dinner, I did some reading, finished my nightly wine allotment, which seems to creep up in winter, and then went off to bed to drift swiftly and blissfully to sleep, content with the wine that collected in my belly that night.
~I imagine that the collector spends most nights in fitful sleep, poised for the sound of the burglar alarm. Not even the fifth of Bourbon he drinks does him any good.
~What? You don’t think he drinks wine, do you?
~If the collector were to drink wine what would he do to justify that big, beautiful cellar?

Copyright, Thomas Pellechia
February, 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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