Food, Home & Lifestyle

Storing and Curating: A Home Cellar

James Suckling

Lesson time 14:38 min

James shares professional tips on how to design and organize a home cellar, properly store and age important bottles, and collect with confidence.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Temperature • Organization • Aging the Right Wines • Cork Finish vs Screw Cap • Inspecting Bottle Condition • Refine Your Connoisseurship • The Best Time to Drink Wine • Curating a Personal Collection


So this is my personal cellar. I come to it every day, checking out bottles, organizing things. This summer we've already tasted 4,000 wines from Italy. There's some really cool things, like some, let's see, 2004 Brunello which, as you know, is one of the best wines of Italy. It's made close by to here. A pure Sangiovese, aged a minimum of two years in barrels and released after five years. The wine is drinking beautifully now at 2004. I'm sure it's going to age for another 10, 20, 30 years. But when you're thinking about storing wines and putting together a cellar, it doesn't have to be all these bottles. You can start off with a few bottles. I remember when I started collecting wine, I had a few cases under my bed. The important thing in cellaring wine is to make sure the temperature remains stable. Ideally, it should be under 20 degrees centigrade. The humidity should be about 60% to 68%. You don't want to have too much humidity, because then you have problems with the labels coming off. But you need humidity, because if you don't, the corks will dry and you'll have a seepage problem. The wine will spoil or it'll age prematurely. I think that sometimes people pay too much attention to temperature. I think there is an upper limit, but the lower limit is much less of a problem. I mean, I've been in cellars in Bordeaux, like at Chateau Ausone, where it was about 10 degrees centigrade forever. That's really cold. And the wines didn't really seem to age very quickly. Which is great if you're going to live 100 years, but really, I don't think that's necessary for most of us. So I like to keep my temperature, ideally, at 18. It doesn't change a lot. Because if you have a lot of change, then sometimes you have expansion of the cork in the bottle. And when it-- when it expands, then regresses, then you can have seepage. Wine could start coming out, because the cork will lose its elasticity. So be careful with that. You might also think, well, how do I organize it? I mean, sure, it's easy with 10 bottles, 20 bottles. But what do you do if you have 500 like this? You can put them by categories, Italian. Break it down Tuscany, Barolo, Southern Italy. Like here is all Italian. And I know that they're mostly 2006 and 2004 here. If I had more time, I might go through every bottle, have it on a spreadsheet. Number each hole and understand exactly where each bottle is. Or you could use a really cool thing like Cellar Tracker, where you can do the whole thing like that, and then you can compare it with tasting notes that they have in the system. But there's a number of systems like that out there. For me, I've always been more free form, and I tend to remember where wines are. Like for example, the Sassicaia I've been waiting to taste this for a long time. This actually has an old number of it from a tasting I did years ago, and it was a young wine. Or also, I know that there is a Paolo Scavino Rocche dell'Annunziata ...

About the Instructor

Called one of the “world’s most powerful wine critics,” James Suckling has tasted more than 200,000 wines over the past 40 years. In his wine tasting MasterClass, James tours legendary Tuscan vineyards and teaches you to explore the stories, history, and people behind every bottle. Deepen your knowledge of the properties in each sip, cultivate your passion, and choose, order, and pair wines with confidence.

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James Suckling

Flavor, aroma, and structure—Learn from wine master James Suckling as he teaches you to appreciate the stories in every bottle.

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