Advice re placing wines in cabinets - picture added

Hello (again)

Having almost finished my dream project of having two built-in wine cabinets side by side (they will be delivered two days from now) I am trying to figure out which wines to place where. The cabinets in question are two Vintec V300 single-zone models each fitted with five or six shelves, allowing for approx. 2 x 250 bottles. My initial thought was to use one for longer-term storage and one for ready-to-drink wines but I am curious to hear opinions and suggestions from those more experienced than I. Once a bottle is placed at the bottom of a shelf it becomes sort of hard to reach, so I would like to do this the smart way from the beginning. This is my inventory: Wines from 'Bryder' - CellarTracker.

How would you handle this? Any and all ideas will be greatly appreciated [cheers.gif]

Hi Kristoffer
Congratulations on the completion of the project.

The challenge with managing this is, that whilst it’s easy to arrange the unready wines at the bottom, and ready/getting ready wines near the top, it’s difficult to maintain this over time because
a) those unready wines eventually become ready, so we should slowly move them upwards.
b) when new wines arrive they are often unready, so logically we should take a number of bottles out so we can put the new wines at the bottom, then re-stack the original bottles by readiness.

Do we do this? Of course we don’t. We put new deliveries in wherever we can fit them in. It’s enough hassle to record the location of the new wines without reorganising at the same time.

For much the same reasons, I’d avoid trying to assign fridge A to be more ready and Fridge B to be less so, as at some point you’d have to move the wines solely to meet this arbitrary approach.

Suggested solution

  1. Start with a good layout, with the ‘sleepers’ buried at the bottom, building up to the more ready ones at the top (& front if you go 2 bottles deep in those fridges). Indeed from experience I’m more likely to reach for a bottle 2 rows down at the front, than on the top at the back - as I can see enough of the bottle at the front to work out what it is.
  2. Use Cellartracker (CT) to record the fridge & shelf on which each wine sits. Don’t bother trying to introduce more detail, as wines often get quickly re positioned on the same shelf. E.g. Left Fridge / Shelf 1 is the location of the wine entered in CT. Try to remember to avoid moving wines between shelves, or only do so when adding other wines & hence you can record the change at the same time. Otherwise you think you’ve lost a bottle when you haven’t.
  3. When buying new ‘sleeper’ wines, try to reorganise within the shelf they’ll sit, as much as is practical. In reality this might often be done in a rush, so at best it might be taking 6 bottles out, putting the most backward wines at the bottom and then layering on a mix of original and new in a fairly logical manner. Often though, especially when the fridge hits maximum storage space, it’s a question of squeezing bottles in as best you can
  4. When drinking a wine, I always try to put a tasting note in CT. Whilst it’s always nice to record what you thought of a wine, I’m coming to the view that this discipline is far more important as a way to ensure I remove the record of the bottle from CT.
  5. Despite your best efforts, your record keeping and original sensible placement will fall out of line. You’ll have a 2015 Barolo in the most accessible place and a 2007 Beaujolais buried out of sight. Either accept this, or every year or two do a full audit of the wines, printing out the CT listing, then taking each shelf in turn, mark corrections on the paper & then once complete, put all the updates into CT. This is also the point in time I find it easiest to reorganise so that the sleepers are buried to the bottom, and the wines that are ready are easiest to access.

I hope this helps

Further thoughts from looking at your cellar list

  1. One easy way to help you decide which wines to bury and which to keep easier to access (at least initially), is to add in your own drinking windows for every wine you have. OK for many it will be pure guesswork, but you won’t be alone in that. Then when you start to put the wines away, have a CT report showing in ready to drink order - thus the least ready to drink get added first, with the ones that need drinking up getting added last of all, and hence they’ll be the easiest to add

  2. Multiple bottles. You’re better than me at buying what you like in good quantities. So what to do with 12, 14 and larger bottle lots. Ideally cellar them on the same shelf (or just a couple of shelves). Ignore the ready to drink advice for these, as you’ll probably want to drink them across a number of years, trying a bottle every year or two until you really think they’re in a great place. For these bottles I’d look to place them together as a block, so one is on the top and easy to access, a couple below that one, and so on, with the last few buried.

  3. I forgot to mention. When space gets tight, half bottles invariably end up filling up the smaller spaces at the top, and anyway it doesn’t work placing them below full bottles. Even if the fridges aren’t full, try to make sure some shelves are full, with the half bottles on top of them. Similar in reverse for magnums, and these can be awkward. FWIW I seem to have ended up with an ‘awkward bottles’ shelf including magnums, travaglini gattinara, champagne and other absurdities of bottle shape.

Kristoffer…I echo what Ian said. You will tax your brain to come up with a strategy, but best to keep a too spreadsheet and worry less about layout. The exception is that some coolers including mine state that some areas within the cooler are more consistent and thus better placement for your long term agers.

Good luck!

You’re probably going to have to play with it based on your own usage patterns and how you want to shelve things.

But, my inclination would be to put things that you’re planning not to move much and of which you have multiple bottles on the bottom and towards the back ( how many bottles deep?) and then have shelves towards the middle or eye level for more frequently rotated stock (daily drinkers, wines that are ready to drink). If they’re right next to each other and equally easily accessed, I’d use both together, and not designate one for longer term storage - that way you can use each more efficiently.

Kristoffer -

Don’t overthink it. Whatever plan you come up with, you’ll want to change it with experience. Besides, half the fun of collecting wine is playing with the bottles, so you’ll enjoy emptying the cabinets and reorganizing them periodically.

What they said. I just moved last weekend and now have to organize my little wine fridge again. The unit in the apartment only holds about 250 but it’s amazing how hard it can be to keep it organized over time. In fact, you can’t unless you’re willing to move dozens of bottles every so often or don’t buy anything until the units are empty.

I have roughly divided it into a few shelves for each region of Spain, a couple for France, a couple for Italy, a couple for big fat bottles from anywhere, a shelf for sweet wines, and the rest from the US and everywhere else. But when I emptied it last week I found some Washington bottles on the shelf with Ribera del Duero so imagine my surprise. In general, just put together wines that you think of similarly for some reason.

Go into your CT account and change your privacy settings if you want us to be able to view your cellar.

Being in the process of moving (from DC-metro Maryland to Denver-metro Colorado), I’ve sent a bunch of wine off to auction (should I post this in the Flipping thread? newhere ) but still have more wine to reorganize than any sane person would consider reasonable.

In the past, I’ve taken cases of six similar wines (maturity and drinking window) and distributed them two bottles each in six different boxes to make access to any of the six wines easier on average, (Did that make sense to anyone? [whistle.gif] )

Now, I admit this hasn’t been an answer to the original inquiry thus far. My current organizational plan will involve storage locations (let’s call them bins) that are larger than single-bottle racks. I’d like to organize bins by my guesstimates of drinking window, so that I might mostly empty one bin before moving on to the next.
I’m hoping that ongoing reorganization might consist of taking new acquisitions (I know that won’t stop, so maybe I need to post this in yet another thread???!!! pileon ) and distributing them either among the existing bin(s) that correspond to the anticipated drinking window or start populating new bins that overlap the drinking windows of existing bins. (Getting complicated yet? [head-bang.gif] )

All of which requires more capacity than inventory, and we all know that is a vacuum abhorred by nature. [wow.gif]

Bottom line? Abandon hope and use Cellar Tracker to locate each bottle.

Thanks a lot for the comments - I think this is probably the one I will take to heart the most:

I have a tendency to do exactly that, especially when it comes to wine!

Fixed - thanks!

The racks are indeed two bottles deep so instead of having a “short-term” and a “long-term” cabinet I think your suggestion of going by (in-)accessibility will work out way better than what I had originally planned on. Applying cabinet and shelf to each wine in CT should make this work.

Thank you all for offering another perspective on this, it was exactly what I needed. I’ll post pictures tomorrow when it’s up and running!

That’s weird, I could see it earlier (before your post Brian).

Only logged-in CT users had access, perhaps that’s the explanation? Anyway, I think it’s interesting and fun to hear people’s thoughts about my choice of wines and, particilarly, get recommendations as to what might be in my wheelhouse. So feel free to pry :slight_smile:

I wasn’t logged in as I had cleared my browsing history earlier in the day. newhere

It’s all French to me.

So, it’s finally done and we’ve managed to gather (almost) all of our wine in these two coolers. The build turned out to be more complicated than expected since our carpenter had to go through the floor in order to reinforce it due to the weight of the whole thing. Holds around 400 in its current configuration so it won’t be enough for ever, but for now I just really enjoy looking at it and being able to access any bottle I want. And playing with the remote-controlled, dimmable lights over and over again [dance-clap.gif]

The shelves are divided roughly between regions, with longer-term agers in the back row and the rest in the front. That has turned out to be the perfect solution for us, so thanks again for your thoughts on how to handle this!

Looking good! Thanks for posting on the result.

Worth reading opinions on a recent thread around leaving tissue on bottles vs. taking it off. FWIW I suspect I have a similar amount with it left on to you & no problems, but worth a read to make your own call.

Thanks, I’m really happy with it! Thanks for the referral to the tissue-thread, I hadn’t thought about it at all. The few bottles that are wrapped are not really that special, except a case of Don Melchor, so I don’t think it’s worth the hassle of removing them. I’ll be sure to check up on the labels to see if they get moldy, though.

Good thing you got that done before loading it up . . . and having a problem!

Very cool! Congrats! Lots of nice Cabinet Sauvignon!