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Archive for Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Choosing a bottle of wine is a matter of taste

February 12, 2002

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Dan Blomgren's personal cellar is stocked with more than 2,000 bottles of wine. He has thousands more in the racks and cases at his Cork & Barrel stores in Lawrence.

Yes, he's a wine expert. But no, he can't read your palate.

"Wine is an investment and is there to enhance your dining experience," he says. "No one knows your taste preference better than you."

So when it comes to choosing, storing and enjoying a wine  whether it's a $5 bottle or a case from a California winery  be sure to rely on your own tastes.

Devising a buying strategy can be as simple as choosing a few brands you enjoy or selecting different vintages from the same producer.

Craig Penzler, a Lawrence architect, likes to pick up wines from vineyards he visits with his wife. They also lean on suggestions from chefs, friends or Web sites packed with reviews.

"Our cellar is more based on what goes well with the food we create, rather than what goes well with a particular investing strategy," Penzler says.

"It's not listed on my portfolio or anything like that. For us, it's a hobby that goes with the food."

Gaining experience with the world's wines takes time, Blomgren says, and it's important to assess your needs, such as how much wine you drink and on what occasions.

Wine retailers can provide sound buying advice, too, provided they have some guidance to work from.

"Don't be afraid to ask and make them stick in your price range," Blomgren says.

Employing a buy-and-hold strategy can pay off once the cork is popped, as long as the purchase was made with proper up-front research.

"Good wines gain complexity when you hold onto them," Blomgren says. "If it's a bad wine to begin with, it won't get better with time."

Protecting the investment takes some care. For many beginning wine lovers, a small wine rack will do just fine, if kept out of the heat.

"Wine should be stored on its side, the colder the better, because wine's one enemy is heat," Blomgren says. "Wine should be stored at 65 degrees or colder because the cooler it is, the slower the aging process."

Blomgren's suggestions for making a worthwhile, enjoyable choice of wine:

 Taste a bottle before you buy six bottles or a case.

 Diversify your collection.

 Shop for values.

 Keep cost in perspective.

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