She may be the queen of organization, but Martha Stewart really needs some help when it comes to the wine cellar for her Winter House.
Stewart made a blog post today with photos of her wine cellar reorganization project in progress that will have any wine professional cringing.
For starters her wine racks are big open shelves, two bottles deep, with a grooved plastic layer for the bottles to nestle into.
This kind of racking system has two main problems. The first is that, by virtue of being two bottles deep, the bottles in the back row are easily hidden by the bottles in the front row as soon as there are more than two layers of bottles on the rack.
The second problem is that stacking bottles on bottles is the easiest way to ensure broken bottles. Stacked on top of one another, they have a tendency to roll and knock into each other. That’s not a huge deal when you’ve got a bin of wines you’re constantly depleting in your restaurant by always pulling a bottle off the top of the pile. But if you’re storing reasonably high quality wines and aging them, and selecting specific wines to drink on specific occasions, that kind of collapsing pyramid of wine bottles is the last thing you want. Labels will scuff, glass will chip, and bottles will break, that is, if you can even find the one you’re looking for.
Stack more than three or four levels deep and you’ve got a Jenga-like mess of biblical proportions.
See the bottom shelf in that second bay? I’d like to know how she expects things to go when she decides that the perfect wine for dinner is the bordeaux with the red capsule at the bottom of the stack? Total disaster.
And look at the top and middle shelves of the first bay. This whole wine cellar setup is a PHENOMENAL waste of space. All the wine she has in that room could take up less than half the space she is currently using, leaving room for either more wine or something else, like a place to hang all those pinecone picture frame ornaments when it’s not Christmas time.
Pull out that bottle with the red capsule above the 1993 Post-it too quickly, and that rather expensive looking Burgundy bottle (with a wax seal that is already decrepit) is going to crash down onto a neighbor if you’re not careful.
By the way… Post-its? OK, Stewart says the next step will be to tag and label each of the bottles, but good luck having those Post-Its hang on for very long in a humid cellar. They’ll have lost their stickiness and be on the floor before Martha has time to make a soufflé
Now let’s talk about organization. Stewart has decided to organize her wine cellar by vintage date. Should your wine cellar consist primarily of wines of one type (You’re a Bordeaux nut, or a Burgundophile) you might possibly consider organizing your cellar simply by the year on the bottle.
But I’m surprised Stewart, who undoubtedly knows a thing or two about enjoying wine with her food wouldn’t have thought to organize her cellar in a way that was more conducive to finding wine of a particular style to go with a given meal. Even just separating whites and reds would be more helpful than organizing things by vintage, let alone keeping lighter bodied wines in one area, and heavier ones in another.
At least she’s separated out her Champagne so it’s easy to get to.
But I’d really like to see her stack up some Dom Perignon bottles. Trust me when I say it ain’t gonna happen.
On the flip side, Stewart seems to have a pretty solid tequila collection going.
But she might as well throw out her sake collection.
Martha needs to go to sake school. Sake should always be stored in the refrigerator, not the wine cellar, and it should be consumed within a year or 18 months of purchase. Very few sakes are worth deliberately aging, and most general consumers that I know don’t enjoy the flavor of aged sake. Perhaps I’m not giving Stewart enough credit, and she’s seriously down with a well-aged yamahai, but I’m guessing she’s in for a world of disappointment when she next gets around to opening some of that sake.
I’m honestly shocked that Stewart’s cellar is such a mess even after her reorganization of it. Shocked because I thought she would know better, or have people to help her that knew better. I’m sure a celebrity like her, even if she isn’t trying to become a wine collector, ends up with some pretty nice bottles of wine.
To wit, one of her photos shows at least 1 bottle of 1999 Chateau Lafite, and during the reorganization she broke a bottle of 1955 Comtesse de Lalande. Several hundred dollars and some pretty good juice down the drain.
I’m sorry to say, Martha, you’re in for a lot more of that kind of accident with your current setup. I recommend investing in some proper wine racks and the help of a professional to organize things correctly, including making a digital inventory with bin numbers so you can browse your inventory online, decide what you want to drink, and then find it easily without hunting around in your chilly basement.
That way you’ll have more time to spend with your guests instead of preventing bottle avalanches. Drop me a line, Martha, I’d be happy to help. Seriously. It would make for a great blog post.
Read the entirety of Martha’s blog post, from which I’ve borrowed the images above.