Cellar books come in all shapes and sizes – there are hundreds of variations available. It can be decorative, adding a look of authenticity and charm to your cellar, or commemorative recording all of those wonderful moments when bottles are opened and shared. But it’s most important role is a practical one. It ensures that you know what wines you have at all times; that each one is opened at the right time; and that your collection is not wasted and drunk too late.
The choice of a cellar book is a personal one; you’ll need to find the format that best suits your wine style, buying patterns and drinking habits. You could purchase one of the many options available, or you could create one of your own on a computer, print it on lovely parchment paper, and have it bound. Another option is to create a loose-leaf binder – then over the years pages can come out, be changed or be added. The file could then have dividers, one for each row of the cellar, or by wine types etc.
The cellar book should have a place for each entry’s purchase information, technical data (grape varieties, yields, vinification details), and speculated rate of maturation, as well as a place to glue the label if you like. And of course, plenty of room to note when you open the bottle, with whom and where you drank it, what was eaten with it, and your impressions. It will probably become more of a scrapbook than anything else!
The market is flooded with computer software that can organise your bottles, provide tasting commentaries and a place for your own comments, dictate your bottle’s maturation dates and keep track of which have been removed from the cellar. The options available all have slightly different features but are basically all pretty good and will handle anything you need. In fact, they all do a little more than what you really need. Alternatively you can create your own Excel spreadsheet (see www.wineloverspage.com/rosswine.shtml for some tips on doing this). Whichever route you take, it is essential to keep the information current, which means updating your data on a regular basis. Otherwise the software is of no use to you.
Some of the better options are:
Spiral Cellars does not endorse any of these products for financial gains. The order in which these products appear is not an indicator of their quality.
‘A mini portable barcode reader and our elegant wine database software, Wine Collector is the critically acclaimed solution that organizes your wine collection with barcode technology. Just scan the retail barcode on the label for automatic identification of the bottle with details like the name, varietal, winery, country, type, color, and region.’ This seems like a very comprehensive tool – the full monty!
‘Since 1995, wine enthusiasts around the world have been using Cellar! to record their wine experiences and manage their wine cellars. Cellar! provides an easy yet powerful interface to track wines you own or have tasted. It stores winery information, tasting notes, transactions, market values, bottle locations, label pictures, drinkability indicators, and much more. All of the information is searchable, making finding the right wine a snap!’
‘WineBanq® wine cellar management software is the total solution for management of your wine cellar. It provides you with all the tools that are necessary to keep your cellar completely up to date and you in charge of what wines to drink and when.’
‘Wine management software and community tasting notes’. See below www.Cor.kz for linked iPhone application.
‘Easy-to-use online software for managing your wine collection’ and completely free.
‘Wine Cellar II is a comprehensive cellar management system designed to record your wine purchases, cellaring and consumption. Whether you have 10 bottles or 10,000 bottles, you can easily keep track of cellaring guidelines, tasting notes, food matches and much more.’
‘The Uncorked Cellar ® is the most comprehensive wine inventory software and wine information source of its type available for wine enthusiasts. Instantly access information on a wide range of wines, including wine aging information and wine tasting notes provided by the wine maker. Manage the contents of your home wine collection, easily add or select wines from your home wine cellar with just a few keystrokes, and view the location of your wines in the virtual rack display. Compare your tasting experiences with winemakers notes and record wine reviews.’
‘Whether you have several bottles or several thousands bottles, Manage Your Cellar is the indispensable wine cellar software for consulting and managing your wine collection. With this wine cellar software, start building your virtual wine cellar and you will keep track of your inventory, know which wine to drink at the right time, and much more. Adding wines to your collection is just a couple of clicks. And with all the wine knowledge already present in the software, there will be little typing that you will need to do. Cellar Statistics will give you a useful one page overview of your cellar and even compute the value of your cellar and its ideal size based on your annual consumption.’
‘Windows wine cellar inventory software. Powerful, flexible, intuitive, fun and easy to use cellar software for lovers of wine.’ From Australia: it has quirks, but is cheap with good support.
Bacchus Cellar Management Software. It’s not an online cellar, but it does come with all the producer profiles and wine assessments in “Wine Behind The Label” as an
Some online wine communities for discovering others’ favourite wines:
‘Adegga is a Social Wine Discovery service. The idea is to take the complexity out of wine and allow people to discover wines based on other people’s choice. Adegga also helps you organize your wines. You can keep track of wines you taste, make a wish list or organize your home cellar. Adegga lets you build a personalized watch list so that you can keep track of what people on your list are choosing and tasting. You can add friends, wine bloggers, producers and just about anyone else. You can also add wine producers and wine shops to your personalized watch list so that you keep track of when a producer releases a new wine or a wine shop makes a promotion.’
‘Cork’d is making life easier for wine aficionados. And it’s completely free. Catalog, rate, and review wines in your Wine Journal. Find out what your buddies are tasting. Discover and keep track of new wines you’d like to buy and try.’
‘Snooth is a revolutionary webbased social shopping experience that is simplifying how people select, interact with, and purchase their favorite wines. Price comparison shopping for the 21st century. Snooth doesn’t sell wine. Instead, we offer users an engaging and unique shopping experience that lets them interact with wineries, merchants, fellow wine lovers, and wine professionals from all over the globe. When users are ready to make a purchase, we let them compare prices and shop from over 10,000 wine merchants worldwide and offer them opportunities to review the wine and their buying experience to help others in the future. Since its launch in June 2007 Snooth has quickly become the world’s most comprehensive wine database, featuring millions of reviews and hundreds of thousands of wines. As of March 2009, Snooth is the world’s largest and most trafficked wine website.’
iPhone tracking applications:
www.Cor.kz – ‘They say that life’s too short to drink bad wine. We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we’ve created the Cor.kz Wine Info iPhone application. In seconds, you can access CellarTracker’s information on over 530,000 bottles of wine…right from your iPhone! Virtually any bottle of wine can be found using Cor.kz – really! So stop taking chances on the bottles you buy at the market and in restaurants. Simply type in the name of the wine and you’ll get wine reviews and wine ratings from experts and from the huge CellarTracker community of wine drinkers.’
The WineSnob application for the iPhone/ iPod touch is very good for keeping track of tasting notes, wine labels etc.
When over used, neck tags make it harder to find what you are looking for and more confusing, thus defeating their purpose. However in some instances they can be useful to distinguish the best bottles from the riff-raff. Someone one mentioned that they used a colour coded system (red-yellowgreen) that told him when to open each bottle. Green means go! Neck tags can be sourced from www.wineware.co.uk Inventory control. Once you have you created your log of wines that you hold, you need to keep track of what goes out and what comes in, and where you put the new bottles. It makes sense to create an ‘In and Out’ cellar inventory tracking sheet. Header rows could include In/Out, Wine, Vintage, Quantity, Location and Price Paid. Complete the sheet, and then use it to update your master list every so often. When you get new wine, you’re eventually going to have to put it away. When preparing the initial inventory and stocking the bins of the cellar try to leave some space for new acquisitions.
Once you have you created your log of wines that you hold, you need to keep track of what goes out and what comes in, and where you put the new bottles. It makes sense to create an ‘In and Out’ cellar inventory tracking sheet. Header rows could include In/Out, Wine, Vintage, Quantity, Location and Price Paid. Complete the sheet, and then use it to update your master list every so often. When you get new wine, you’re eventually going to have to put it away. When preparing the initial inventory and stocking the bins of the cellar try to leave some space for new acquisitions.