Keeping track of your wines when your cellar has expanded to dozens or hundreds of wines becomes a problem. Without a system it’s often the most recent purchase that is drunk first while older wines languish forgotten.
There are many methods of recording your purchases. A cellar-book used to be the standard way where every purchase was written down and every wine consumed marked. But this has mostly been replaced by technology, by home made databases or spreadsheets.
A low tech method is neck labels. These are small plastic cards with a hole that are hung over a bottle’s neck. You can write details of the wine on them so when looking at wines in your cellar bottles don’t have to be removed to see what they are.
Remembering the location of each wine is impossible but there is a excellent and free tool on the web named Cellar Tracker (cellartracker.com). Enter a wine’s name, how many bottles you have of it and its location in the database, and as long as you remember to update the database every time you consume a wine and you’ll have a record of every wine you own. Cellar Tracker offers much more, including space to share tasting notes, record where a wine was bought and how much it cost and it will suggest its optimum drinking time.
Since CellarTracker already holds the details of most wines you are saved the chore of typing in all the tedious details of full name and appellation. Instead just select the wine that matches. This really saves an enormous amount of work. And should you have a wine – that Ethiopian Viognier maybe* – that is not already in the database, then it’s easy enough to create an entry, usually by copying an amending an existing one that has some similarities.
And if you want to get really high tech, then you can use a bar code scanner to read the UPC code on a wine label to create an entry, print out individual unique barcodes for your bottles and scan them as they are consumed to mark them as so in the database.
Where is your ‘cellar’? Share with us on our forum.
*At time of writing the CellarTracker has details of nine different Ethiopian wines, but not yet a Viognier.
Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape.