Did you ever find that your wine collection grows like mushroom after a rain? Do you know what I mean by this? Okay, notice that you can have no mushrooms in your flower beds, nice, clean, whatever. Then you get a couple of days of rain. Several days later mushrooms come screaming out of your ground and you wonder where the hell the spores that produced them came from in the first place.
Well, based on my very unscientific survey, essentially just talking to the voices in my head, I have come to believe that "wine collectors" and especially those of us who drink our wine, not hoard it for future sale at auction, find one day that those wine mushrooms have poked out of the ground and a collection of 200 bottles is somehow approaching 1000. Worst part, you have no idea how it got to be that way.
I can tell you for sure that reciprocal states (thank God for sane wine shipping laws in most states these days) have a lot to do with this. I receive at least six emails per day with the latest, hottest wine, rated 95 by RP or WS, at deep, deep discount. It is really easy to get sucked into buying the price or the rating without realizing your weekly purchases were 2 dozen bottles and $1000 and sheeite, how you gonna pay for that? Before the internet and reciprocal states (like IL where I used to live and my current abodes in TX), you would have to drive down to the local liquor store, supermarket or even visit a winery to make your purchases. That took time, effort and you most importantly, you had to carry the cases to and from the car and sign the Visa receipt with trembling hand. NOT SO ANYMORE.
No, instead I get an email from one of ten vendors spread across at least 5 states (Il, NJ, CA, WA, OR) who already have my credit card on file. Fill out the number of bottles you want, add the three or four digit code on the front or back of the card and magically, in 2 weeks, the wine arrives at your door in styrefoam and screaming "drink me, drink me".
The average family in the us has two wine drinkers or less. So you do the math, even one bottle a night (which may lead to a hangover) and those dozen wines add 5/week to the wine collection. 52 weeks in a year, add in the days you don't pop a bottle (out on business, travelling on vacation, eat out at restaurant, go to a friends for dinner, hung over and afraid of wretching) and you can easily add over 250 wines a year to your collection without even realizing it. That is unless storage becomes an issue. If you have a passive cellar in a basement, watch out. You may get tired from carrying the cases down stairs, but before you know it, 250 begats 500 and you are sitting on 1000 bottles of wine of which half have a two year shelf life and your pants just became a little soiled.
So STOP you say. Obsessive compulsive behavior I say. Yeah, it runs in my family and whether you have it or not, wine becomes that obsessive compulsive thing in your life that grows like a monster and is awfully hard to control. And I know that I am not the only one with this tendency. Just this month old Jimmy Laube of the Wine Spectator (previous readers of this blog, all three of you, know how I feel about them) intimated that he also had this problem. I think true wine lovers with any space to collect will all admit, in their heart of hearts, that it is a problem that is pervasive and almost too hard to control.
MADD members will say it is the alcohol talking. I say NO. Wine is a food beverage, made to enjoy primarily (but of course not always) with a meal and I estimate that well north of 95% of the wine I drink is consumed in conjunction with a meal. The exception may be when I go to a party or a tasting with a wine group but these usually include food, if for no other reason than to ensure I can walk out at the end of the thing.
Without consulting my shrink (I really do not have one, okay), I have to say this disease is really one of too much love of a good thing. You know, you see the review it gets a 95 and is "only" $59 a bottle and it will age for ten years so you have to buy six bottles. Six, twelve times 5, etc., etc. I have found the only way to slow the advance of the disease is to unsubscribe from the emails. Since I do not have willpower yet to do this, the next best thing is to erase them before reading. With this in mind, set an upper limit for your cellar. For me, this is 1300 bottles, give or take, which is all my wine room can hold. Then challenge yourself to go one day, then one week, then one month, without clicking "Purchase Now". I have been working to tell myself there will always be another vintage of the decade or century. If you miss 2005 Chateauneuf, just drink those 2003's until that next great vintage comes around in, say 2010.
It is hard and maybe I need to start a support group to really show progress. My wife hopes not. Running out of cash and space also may curtail activities.
So wish me luck as I do all of you fighting the "mushrooms in your yard". I hope sanity will prevail.