While there is no set formula for a great cellar, you should consider:
As the amount and type of wines can vary enormously, it is not really possible to work from a template! Wine lovers often say that creating a cellar is like doing an enormous jigsaw puzzle. There always seems to be something missing, and you know that the puzzle will be taken apart and put back together hundreds of times.
Whatever your ambitions, it is important to keep a sense of balance in your cellar between reds, whites (dry and sweet), and rosés according to your tastes. Specialty items such as fortified wines (Maury, Banyuls, Rivesaltes, Porto, etc.) should be included too, since they go brilliantly with chocolate desserts and will delight your friends.
Its also important to keep the seasons in mind – people don’t generally drink the same wines in winter as they do in the summer. Furthermore, people's tastes often change over the years! So, try to strike the right balance between easy-drinking wines to enjoy at a simple meal with friends and "special occasion" wines – which take some aging – to complement fine cuisine. Unusual wines (due to a unique terroir, winegrowing method, winemaking technique, or flavor) are also well worth including, since they add variety to your cellar.
Whether you drink wine every day, at weekends, or on special occasions, a good tip is to split your cellar into three categories:
These modestly priced wines are ideal for weeknight meals. Try and stay away from non-appellation vin de table. Some vins de pays are a good alternative. These can be inexpensive, but still show real character. Avoid overloading your cellar with them, however because they are not intended to be aged more than a couple of years, and are always readily available in shops. Instead, it is wiser to buy enough of this kind of wine to keep you going for a few weeks at a time.
These are wines to enjoy when you have a little more time, and should make up the majority of your cellar. The variety of wines in this category, as well as their ability to age, means that you can easily select from among a selection of wines at their peak. Crus bourgeois, crus artisans, lesser Bordeaux appellations, and entry-level wines from other regions are examples of ideal wines for sharing with your friends and family on week-ends.
These are the cream of your cellar – really special wines from great years. These wines are meant to age, and the quality of the vintage is very important. In fact, the only thing standing in the way of enjoying these wines more often is the cost… Many wine lovers buy these wines to mark great occasions, such as the birth of a child, or to share at important family gatherings.