Question about cellar size + consumption

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bryan c
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Question about cellar size + consumption

#1 Post by bryan c » February 3rd, 2017, 12:30 pm

Background: I've only started offsite storage for a bit over a year, and trying to figure out what's an appropriate size, and when to maybe throttle my purchases. I've gone from one 12 case locker to essentially 60 cases worth of offsite storage.

Kind of theorizing here, but I'm wondering if anyone's applied queueing theory or Little's Law in a way to analyze what an appropriate amount of wine to keep around is?

A very simplistic view: Lets say average time you wait between purchase and drinking a bottle is 10 years (Cycle Time), and you have space to store 500 bottles. Your throughput ends up being 50 bottles / year. This assumes delta between yearly consumption and purchases are equal and you've already backfilled 500 bottles.

Does this make sense? I'm basically trying to analytically justify a given size of offsite storage for myself :) and not seems like I'm on the path to acquiring too big of a stash. This analysis can also help guide on when I should trim my stuff and start looking to sell off items or when I should go cold turkey for purchases (when I have too much inventory).

Curious to hear other people's thoughts.
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Ian Sutton
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Question about cellar size + consumption

#2 Post by Ian Sutton » February 3rd, 2017, 12:49 pm

I recall someone doing that analysis on an Aussie forum a while back. IIRC to have the range of wines they wanted, all in 12 bottle cases at some point through their evolution, ended up with a LOT of bottles.

Offsite is dangerous. The cases don't arrive at home, so there is a risk it feels like 'funny' purchases. You don't see it arrive, so you've not bought anything, so you can go out and buy more. All of a sudden you're past 1,000 2,000 5,000 10,000 bottles and so on. You've seen how quick it goes from 144 bottles to 720 bottles.

Try to set a hard limit. If that doesn't work, ask a loved one to set one (before they impose one on you!). It does help stop those "it's a good price" purchases and focuses you on what you really want.

Logistics need thinking about. For in-bond purchases over here, the whole case goes in and the who case has to come out in one go. No selecting a mixed case to withdraw. Assuming your storage isn't constrained in the same way, you still have to go over to the storage to select the wines, plus backfilling the gaps. Work out what is the best way for you to do this & keep track, sticking rigorously to the approach you choose. The approach needs to ensure you regularly pick up 'ready to drink' cases from storage.

When would I start throttling the purchases? Now. 144 to 720 in a year shows you have the same buying addiction gene as many here. Unless you have a plan to control it, you'll have more wine that you can get through.
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Question about cellar size + consumption

#3 Post by bryan c » February 3rd, 2017, 1:03 pm

Thanks for the reply Ian! Good things to think about.

Ian Sutton wrote: Offsite is dangerous. The cases don't arrive at home, so there is a risk it feels like 'funny' purchases. You don't see it arrive, so you've not bought anything, so you can go out and buy more. All of a sudden you're past 1,000 2,000 5,000 10,000 bottles and so on. You've seen how quick it goes from 144 bottles to 720 bottles.
Yeah, trying to figure out if I should go cold turkey or try to temper purchases. The ballooning was mostly from backfilling older stuff that I could drink now while I lay down newer releases and with some random stuff mixed in to try as well.
Ian Sutton wrote: Try to set a hard limit. If that doesn't work, ask a loved one to set one (before they impose one on you!). It does help stop those "it's a good price" purchases and focuses you on what you really want.
In trying to figure out a reasonable hard limit, I started going down this path of thinking. I currently don't buy by the case and vary between 1, 3 or 6 bottle purchases depending on if it's something to try or something that I know I'd want to keep for a bit and try a few times as it progresses.
Ian Sutton wrote: Logistics need thinking about. For in-bond purchases over here, the whole case goes in and the who case has to come out in one go. No selecting a mixed case to withdraw. Assuming your storage isn't constrained in the same way, you still have to go over to the storage to select the wines, plus backfilling the gaps. Work out what is the best way for you to do this & keep track, sticking rigorously to the approach you choose. The approach needs to ensure you regularly pick up 'ready to drink' cases from storage.
Yeah, my offsite is local to me, 24/7 all year access. I also need to figure out a way to better organize my offsite but that's a different thread. I just barely was able to enter everything into CellarTracker last year, and that's when I noticed I had an offsite problem... I do get the cases shipped to me and then I schlep them over to offsite so I do end up interacting with all my purchases. I also have some pre-arrivals as well which caught me off guard and I only noticed after I entered things into CellarTracker.
Ian Sutton wrote: When would I start throttling the purchases? Now. 144 to 720 in a year shows you have the same buying addiction gene as many here. Unless you have a plan to control it, you'll have more wine that you can get through.
Yep, definitely have that gene. Already throttling and only sticking to current release stuff and drinking down some of the stash. Now just trying to have more hard data to guide me a bit on what the levels should be.
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Question about cellar size + consumption

#4 Post by Ian Sutton » February 3rd, 2017, 4:42 pm

Hi Bryan
In order to answer the question of "how much is enough?" it may help you to consider why you cellar wine:
- To collect cool stuff / enjoy the 'cellaring wine' experience
- To have a selection of wine to drink at the dinner table
- To avoid always having to buy older wines with unknown provenance / at inflated prices
- To revel in a love of genuinely mature wine
- To have wine at varying degrees of maturity
- Other?

The 1st one is a dangerous one, as it has no natural minimum level. Whilst I have a bit of that and a bit of number 4, number 2 is my main driver and that is not bad to start thinking about how many bottles is enough:

Let's say a quarter of the bottles are just not ready / would be a shame to open early
Let's say (based on 1,3 & 6 bottle purchases) half the bottles are not unique

So at 720 bottles, we're now down to 120 different wines that are available to drink. Now think how you feel about a restaurant with a 120 bottle wine list? (and all good stuff - hand chosen by someone who has a palate remarkably similar to yours). Does that sound like enough to choose something interesting for that meal? If it does, and if 2) is the most important for you, then you're about there (but mess around with the assumptions, and then validate the result by looking in CT and saying "If I had to choose a wine for tomorrow night's meal, how many are available for drinking?". Such a question may also highlight those areas where you suddenly realise "I have no Rosé!" or "I have too many Grenache based wines" or " I have nothing ready to drink!!".

If your interest is predominately 1) then finding a way to put an arbitrary hard limit is essential!

regards
Ian
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Question about cellar size + consumption

#5 Post by Michael Martin » February 3rd, 2017, 4:53 pm

I buy first hand what I know I probably won't find elsewhere. The rest I buy on the auction sites at a cost below release, nicely aged and without paying for storage for all those years. I get by with 450 bottles of storage at my house and still enjoy everything I like.

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Question about cellar size + consumption

#6 Post by Carlos Delpin » February 4th, 2017, 3:31 am

Good luck trying to apply logic and reason to a mostly emotional and irrational addiction.

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Question about cellar size + consumption

#7 Post by bryan c » February 4th, 2017, 9:21 pm

Carlos Delpin wrote:Good luck trying to apply logic and reason to a mostly emotional and irrational addiction.
I'm trying!!! It's not 100% irrational, it's a mix I feel. What that mix is is probably based on what motivates us to have a stash.
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Question about cellar size + consumption

#8 Post by bryan c » February 4th, 2017, 9:32 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:Hi Bryan
In order to answer the question of "how much is enough?" it may help you to consider why you cellar wine:
- To collect cool stuff / enjoy the 'cellaring wine' experience
- To have a selection of wine to drink at the dinner table
- To avoid always having to buy older wines with unknown provenance / at inflated prices
- To revel in a love of genuinely mature wine
- To have wine at varying degrees of maturity
- Other?

The 1st one is a dangerous one, as it has no natural minimum level. Whilst I have a bit of that and a bit of number 4, number 2 is my main driver and that is not bad to start thinking about how many bottles is enough:

Let's say a quarter of the bottles are just not ready / would be a shame to open early
Let's say (based on 1,3 & 6 bottle purchases) half the bottles are not unique

So at 720 bottles, we're now down to 120 different wines that are available to drink. Now think how you feel about a restaurant with a 120 bottle wine list? (and all good stuff - hand chosen by someone who has a palate remarkably similar to yours). Does that sound like enough to choose something interesting for that meal? If it does, and if 2) is the most important for you, then you're about there (but mess around with the assumptions, and then validate the result by looking in CT and saying "If I had to choose a wine for tomorrow night's meal, how many are available for drinking?". Such a question may also highlight those areas where you suddenly realise "I have no Rosé!" or "I have too many Grenache based wines" or " I have nothing ready to drink!!".

If your interest is predominately 1) then finding a way to put an arbitrary hard limit is essential!

regards
Ian
Yeah I'm definitely a bit of everything except 1) actually, I intend to consume everything I buy. And yeah, I feel like I can stop buying now and be happy with what I have for a few years in terms of pairing with meals and having by itself. I think what happens then is I think beyond that and have a fear down the road of a heavily depleted stash, missing out on some items I should have been acquiring when I'd stopped.

This is all sort of why I feel like I might be able to attack things from this queueing theory angle.

Oh yeah, I do use CT to slice and dice my collection to get a sense of what regions I'm heavy in (stuff I prefer right now, Piedmont & Tuscany) and how covered I am across vintages. I also have a smattering representation of a bunch of other regions to balance things out. I think another thing I have that nags me a bit is that there's some likelihood down the road of my palate/preferences changing. It's already changed, I used to be a lot more into CA Cabs, but now gravitating towards old world stuff. I guess when it comes to that point of palate changing, i can adapt and shave off some of the stash that's heavy in what I no longer super love, freeing up space for new stuff I love.

Thanks giving me stuff to think about!
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Question about cellar size + consumption

#9 Post by bryan c » February 4th, 2017, 9:40 pm

Michael Martin wrote:I buy first hand what I know I probably won't find elsewhere. The rest I buy on the auction sites at a cost below release, nicely aged and without paying for storage for all those years. I get by with 450 bottles of storage at my house and still enjoy everything I like.

Yeah, this is another option. The part that I'm hesitant about is that if I rely on auction or other sources for the aged stuff, I set myself up for other risk factors I need to deal with regarding provenance as well as likelihood of counterfeits. But it's not bad, since I've already backfilled a bit, I've already been through this motion. But I do have a fear of maybe chunks of my backfilled stuff might be in shakey condition or counterfeit. Going forward, at least I can chip away at my stash of backfilled stuff (maybe 70/30 backfill/new release is my current ratio?). I'll probably always have a mix of some acquisitions being backfilled as I notice things I want to stock up on that I didn't get a chance to get early on.
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Question about cellar size + consumption

#10 Post by Ian Sutton » February 5th, 2017, 11:27 am

Hi Bryan
I think I found that thread where someone tried to put some numbers in
http://forum.auswine.com.au/viewtopic.p ... r+strategy

here's the bit in question (written by Steve under the handle 707)
So, if you drink 200 bottles per year, half are mature, half are just purchased and you like your mature wines to be eight years old and you get a 75% success rate in choosing the wines and you allow 10% for TCA taint your formula for storage would look like this -

100 mature bottles x 8 years / .75 / .9 =1185 bottles which means you need to have storage for about 100 cases or 200 six packs.
Essentially he's saying you need (with his assumptions) an 8 year cellaring cycle, where you're not touching the wines. Artificial for sure, but might be a useful ballpark calculation to tweak.

As others have alluded, trying to apply maths to something as irrational as wine purchases (and boy do we get reminded how irrational our purchases are by barely tolerant spouses!) is over-analysing.

regards
Ian

p.s. that fear of failing to plan is a common one, but mostly unrealised. It is all too easy to buy stuff, and the bigger danger is ending up with a stupidly big cellar. Another way you could look at it, is (based on current drinking rate) how many years worth of wine have I got, without buying another bottle [rofl.gif] ?

Having a target of 3,4 or 5 years is pretty sensible. Some wine enthusiasts have cellars that must be relying on reincarnation for them to get to drink them.
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Question about cellar size + consumption

#11 Post by Steve Slatcher » February 7th, 2017, 1:02 pm

bryan c wrote:A very simplistic view: Lets say average time you wait between purchase and drinking a bottle is 10 years (Cycle Time), and you have space to store 500 bottles. Your throughput ends up being 50 bottles / year. This assumes delta between yearly consumption and purchases are equal and you've already backfilled 500 bottles.
Strictly speaking, that's correct.

But it does not allow for the selection of ready-for-drinking wines you might prefer to have at any time - to ensure good matches for the food you have, for example. It's difficult to account for that factor numerically, but you should probably increase your storage beyond the simplistic assumptions.

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Question about cellar size + consumption

#12 Post by Ian Fitzsimmons » February 19th, 2017, 8:16 am

[Stupid math error corrected 2/20]

Also depends on what wines you like. If your penchant is for mature MSR Rieslings, 1er Cru Burgundy, Hermitage, and Bordeaux cru classé - when long-term cellaring is most rewarded - you current purchases are for drinking 12-16 years hence, or more. If you drink, say, one bottle in each of these categories a month, you'll want storage space for something like 180 bottles of each (15 cases, about a case a year). So in the above imaginary scenario, you store about 60 cases (720 bottles), just to have four bottles a month of mature wine in the current year.

IMHO, it's good to have some capacity for long-term reserve in these categories, along with some for shorter-term agers, so the total number averages out to a lower figure. Always plan to buy some wines to drink in the short-term, however - either wines that don't age or mature wines purchased at auction, or new things you just want to try on.

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Question about cellar size + consumption

#13 Post by Doug Damron » February 4th, 2018, 7:36 am

There is no rule of thumb and these answers have been great. Wine collections become irrational and exuberant behavior by all of us. I’ll say this where I think one can have a great wine life and still collect and have great diversity - keep your collection at 1000. I think at 1000 bottles that provides sufficient capacity for most goals while making one with more resources and propensity to over buy work harder to make their collection focused. I think this provides a normal lifestyle of 7 bottles a week on average while not contributing the demise of great wines. I think the seldom talked about reality of wine collecting is how many people let great bottles die in their cellars due to vanity/collectors fervor.

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Question about cellar size + consumption

#14 Post by Mattstolz » February 24th, 2018, 4:25 am

This is a funny question to post here, because I think a lot of people have trouble throttling back. I dont think its an overconsumption problem, I just think the thrill of the chase is addicting with wine! My suggestion as to how much is too much is to work backwards. its slightly morbid, but basically start with how long you think you'll live, and make sure you have enough wine for that day. there are two ways to do that: oversupply (i.e. keep buying until right up to the day before!) or attempting to finish the last bottle on your last day (risky... what if you make it through the night?? gotta have a bottle for the next day!)

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Question about cellar size + consumption

#15 Post by Sh@n A » July 9th, 2018, 3:22 pm

Michael Martin wrote:I buy first hand what I know I probably won't find elsewhere. The rest I buy on the auction sites at a cost below release, nicely aged and without paying for storage for all those years. I get by with 450 bottles of storage at my house and still enjoy everything I like.
Michael - how do you track what you like and the cost versus release + storage? It's an interesting concept, but seems like it requires a great amount of mental effort?

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Question about cellar size + consumption

#16 Post by Sh@n A » July 9th, 2018, 3:55 pm

I am planning an off-site storage facility, just like yours, from scratch. I'm doing the same math and it seems reasonable to me. I am assuming a 20YR cycle however, not a 10YR. Will figure to plan for a measly 12 higher priced bottles of wine per year = 12 x 20 = 240 wines. Will figure in +50% slippage (e.g., over purchasing which I am prone to) so 360 bottles. Higher priced for me means $90-$200 per bottle. I will then layer in 6 more mainstream price priced bottles per year ($50-70) which can turn into great value over time/serve as gifts. 6 x 20 = another 120 bottles.

Thus my cellar target will be ~500 bottles.

The questions for me, however, are deviations for 375ml (as I am starting from scratch, to have bottles ready to drink sooner) and what to buy now. Purchasing 2016 and 2017 futures are easy enough. But I won't have stuff to drink for a long time! So I plan to buy some older vintages as well... perhaps 5YRs back, e.g., 2012. The prices are pretty high however, and 375ml are not readily available.
/ @ g r @ \

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