Why You Should Collect Wine

wineshelfbooksI tapped open my iPad last night to get back to a book I am in the process of devouring and noted the many books that are held in that device. I hadn’t noticed it before then, but the display of this collection of reading material reminded me of something I hadn’t looked at in a long time.

I got up from my reading chair and paced into the next room, flipped on the lights and there it was: a collection of books. A few hundred, all stacked neatly on shelves and somewhat coherently divided subject matter: Law, fiction, how to, gardening, baseball, golf, reference, etc., etc.

Perhaps it was the time spent staring into this abyss of the pulpy archaic, but upon moving to another room in the home to choose a wine for the evening I gazed upon my wall of wines and realized that it was similar to my shelf of books, symbolically and in reality.

I was a collector...of both books and wine. Not a “collector” in the sense of “Oh, well, I’ve been collecting mid-century modern object d’art for quite some time my dear.” But rather the kind of collector that most people would relate to: “Yea, I like wine and books, so sue me”.

And it was standing in front of that wall of wine that I immediately understood the most important purpose of collecting wine (and books): Not to read or drink; rather, to mark a trail of where you have been, what you admired, how you live and what was important.

We think our walls of wine have been built to provide us with choice. And I suppose that is one explanation for having more than 10 bottles in our home at any given time. And I suppose keeping hundreds of books on shelves provide the benefit of being able to go back and find that piece of information you need. But this is secondary.

The wine collector with all that wine ready to be drunk is really just writing a personal history; they are displaying where their interest in wine has led them; they have place bottles on racks to remind them what they’ve learned about wine, what they learned to like about wine and to preserve moments when their love and interest in wine has motivated them to act.

This archival approach to out intellectual and wine lives, symbolized by our shelves of books and racks of wine, is one way of marking time and profiling our lives. I recommend it.

2 Responses

  1. Charlie Olken - January 17, 2013

    Collecing wine and books–sounds awfully familiar to me.

    But I view wine and books entirely differently. Books, of which this house has probably more than a thousand (several hundred each on wine and on cooking alone, not to mention travel, non-fiction and all the John Le Carre and Len Deighton and, and, and of my fiction reading) are knowledge. I could no more part with my books than sell my soul.

    Wine is different. I collect wine to drink it. Sure, I agree that my collection is a journey of where I have been. It early collections mark the beginnings of my conversion to wine nut and my late additions are testaments to the great new experiences.

    But behind them all, whether too much Champagne, because the Olken drink Champagne whenever we can, or CA Cabs, those bottles, bottom line, are there not to remind me of the past but to make me happy in the future.

    I will never drink up my entire collection. I know that now. I don’t care. Each bottle out there in cellar is potentially a giver of joy at my next meal. I treasure them all not for what they are or are not worth–and I have never sold or traded a bottle in all these decades–but for what they will give me tomorrow or next week or next year or in the next decade.

  2. Wes - January 18, 2013

    Collecting wine is truely becoming a national pastime for those Foodies out there!shop for wine from California

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