This Month in Your Cellar: Make Space for Your Essential Summer Wine

Essential Summer Wine

Your essential summer wine is usually best-served young. The best way to remember to drink and serve these wines is to store them in a special location in your cellar. Photo Credit: Pixabay CC user Skitterphoto

There’s something about the heat of the summer that makes me want to go on a wine shopping spree. By the time July or August rolls around, it’s usually been months since I invested heavily in wine for my collection. I’ll spend all spring preparing for the arrival of my back-ordered allocations, but once those are safely tucked away in storage, I feel a strong urge to buy more wine. That’s where my essential summer wine list comes in, ranging from savory rosé to crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Investing in young, drinkable summer wine is a great distraction while you wait for your more age-worthy bottles to reach their peak, yet I’ve seen far too many collectors take these kinds of wine for granted. They’ll store bottles wherever they’ll fit: in a pantry’s nooks and crannies, in a far corner inside the refrigerator, or worse, on top of the refrigerator. When you take the time to store your summer wine properly, you get more enjoyment out of the drinking experience, and you break out of bad home storage habits.

Why You Should Care About Properly Storing Seasonal Wine

Storing your drinkable wine in a real cellar or wine cooler lowers the chances of the bottles spoiling, especially if they’re not meant to be aged longer than a few months. As Wine blogger Alder Yarrow points out, it’s easy to forget about young bottles you buy, especially if they’re scattered around the kitchen. He explains, “I recently ‘lost’ a bottle of red wine in my fridge (OK, so I mostly just ignored it in favor of other wines for weeks) and found it in remarkably good shape after more than three weeks.” He says he got lucky, since most of the time, a forgotten wine means a spoiled wine.

Keeping your wine under the perfect storage conditions not only prevents spoilage, but it’s a good habit to get into for the rest of your collection. You never want to get used to buying a case of wine and keeping it on the floor of your kitchen for months, whether it’s cheap summer wine or the latest vintage of Chateau Lafleur. Get in the habit of putting every wine bottle you buy into your cellar or wine cooler the moment it arrives. When you practice excellent storage hygiene with every bottle you own, no matter what it’s worth, you’ll stay more organized in the future.

Carving Out a Space in Your Cellar

The best place for your seasonal summer wine is the area closest to the cellar door, since it’s the easiest to see and access quickly. If necessary, move your other bottles or furniture further away from the door of your cellar to make enough space for your seasonal wines. The size of the new empty space will depend on how many bottles you usually buy every season. If you go through at least a bottle every few days, you might need more space for your wine, but if you drink a bottle every two weeks, you’ll only need a handful of racks.

To store your essential summer wine properly, start with a wall-mounted, modular metal wine rack. After you’ve made space close to the cellar door, buy enough modular racks to hold at least one case of wine bottles, if not more. The great thing about modular racks is that you can always mount more racks if you need them, or take them down in slower seasons. For instance, if you drink less seasonal wine in the fall, you can remove some of the racks once summer is over. As you buy your summer wine, organize each bottle in the seasonal rack by varietal and tasting notes. Store your savory wines on the easier-access lower racks, since you’ll likely drink these more often with food, and keep sweeter white wines on the harder-to-reach upper racks for special occasions.

Your Essential Summer Wine Shopping List

Now that you have a space ready for your essential summer wine, you’ll need to know which bottles to store on the rack. A wide variety of rosé vintages, especially those from Provence, will offer versatility in a range of complex flavors. Make sure you pick at least one savory vintage and one sweet vintage, since this varietal is likely going to be the wine you drink most often this summer. Additionally, you’ll want to choose a brut-style Champagne to hold for special occasions, or to bring over as a gift when you’re invited to a summer party. Another ideal white wine pick for the summer is Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough region; these wines aren’t always collectible, but they will give you the best value in terms of quality.

As for red varietals, sommelier Grant Reynolds suggests Grenache for a place in your seasonal cellar. He says, “Serve it slightly chilled, and you’ll be a hero. This wine has some clout in the wine world, so you can win some points there too if you’re going to someone else’s place and they’re doing all the hard work on the grill.” Like Reynolds, sommelier Erin White says that the best summer red wines are those that can be chilled, which is why she recommends Beaujolais. “Always lay the bottle on top of the ice and give it a nice chill,” she says. Go for savory and spicy flavors in your reds (very fruity reds can be a bit heavy in hot weather), and stick with dry, crisp flavors in your whites. For a summery dessert wine, choose a high-quality Sauternes vintage, or another wine that loves noble rot. Once summer is over, you can convert your new seasonal wine rack into a space for your best fall wines, like Pinot Noir and Syrah.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.

Harley is an Executive Wine Specialist for Vinfolio, helping collectors find the best wines for their collection. He’s a lover of everything outdoors and the proper bottles to go along with it. You can find him at any of the newest cocktail bars and restaurants in SF or on an adventure somewhere in between Lake Tahoe and the California coastline.