To Protect and to Serve

Posted by The Wine Whore |

Like most people, when I first started drinking wine, the bottle went straight from the wine store to my wine glass. There was no need for a cellar, wine fridge, or even a rack to store my bottles. My wine purchases just didn't last long to need 'em!

As I got more into wine, something strange happened... no, I'm not referring to the deterioration of my liver... I'm talking about my collection. Over time, I started amassing more bottles in my "cellar". These new bottles aren't your everyday two-buck-chucks. These are bottles I saved up for and stored away for that "special" occasion.

Now, I've got a new problem! As much as I would love to drink 'em, I hardly ever want to touch these bottles. In fact, the mere process of figuring out what to drink actually causes me stress!

The other day, friend and fellow wine lover @LifeByChocolate told me about a solution. The best way to avoid tapping into your wine collection is by having plenty of "Protector Bottles" around. What's a Protector Bottle? It's simple! These are bottles of wine that you DON'T mind drinking instead of your treasured collectibles. By having these tasty distractions handy, you avoid the temptation of opening something you might otherwise regret the next day.

How far you go to protect your collection is entirely up to you. Some people go as far as to protect their wine by region, grape, or even winery! Personally, I have a plethora of Protector Bottles at home and didn't even realize it. These rogue bottles stand in the way of my corkscrew and my Bordeaux collection every day.

... are Protector Bottles REALLY a good thing?

NO! Okay, I agree that they are a great way to distract you from opening expensive (and probably totally awesome) bottles on a daily basis... but here's the deal... maybe you need an excuse to open these bottles sometimes. By fortifying your cellar with protector bottles, you are missing sight of the reason why you bought those special bottles in the first place: TO DRINK 'EM!

Take a look at your cellar/collection... how well protected is your collection?

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Corkdork said...

I've got a wine that does just that, although I'd never figured out the name for it. Flichman Dedicado (~$20, an Argentine red blend of mostly Malbec, some Cab, and a touch of Syrah). When I think about popping, say, my '03 Segla, or my '05 Ch. L'Ancien... out comes a Dedicado!

And it's not that it's not a good wine -- in fact, it's my favorite Argentine wine. But for the price, it stands guard over the more expensive stuff.

The Wine Whore said...

Wait a minute!!! You've got a '03 Segla??!?!

That's exactly it... these bottles help save the more expensive ones! Some people really get into this idea... how many protector bottles would you say you have? Do you have one for each region?

Ed said...

I like that term, Protector Bottles... perfect. I do it too... try to buy a case of value wines once in a while that acts as a barrier when we go to the cellar...

However, the plan I am working on to prevent the need for this is to keep the right amount of wine in the cellar that will allow us to drink a year's worth of wine that has been in the cellar at least two years and keep the rotation going... regardless of cost or "special occasion"... like you said, we buy em to drink em

The Wine Whore said...

Yeah, isn't that cool! I can't take the credit for coming up with it... but it sure is a neat way to think about it!

That's a great point! Everyone really needs to crack into those cellared wines and keep 'em rotating or else what's the fun of having them in the first place?! :)

Any good wine for you this week Ed to celebrate the Holidays? I bet you've got a gem (or two) picked out!

Anonymous said...

I have a whole section of wine I told my wife she was safe to pull from in my absence. Mostly $10-20 wines that I call my "house wine". Good wines but I found each on massive discount. Even my own winery wine too expensive for house wine so I have got to rethink our pricing!


Corkdork said...

Yes, an '03 Segla. Not '03 Rauzan-Segla, a Segla; it's their second wine.

In fairness, I've got a couple of other really nice bottles in the cellar... an '02 Silver Oak Napa, an '06 Leoville Barton, a '05 Baldacci Brenda's Vineyard, a '05 Ode to Lorraine, and Cinq Cepages from '03 and '04. Those are the brag-worthy bottles, at least.

wino4ever said...

WOW! I could have written this blog. You have described my situation EXACTLY! I have amassed a couple hundred bottles of the "good stuff" and almost feel guilty when I open a bottle and there is nobody to share it with (my wife would kill me if she read this.) My problem is, I have consumed most of my "every day" wines and occasionally I need to stock up.

That's exactly what I did this week - found a great deal on a bottle of wine that tasted really good - and bought a case just to have around for "whenever". If I had to guess, I would say I have about a 10% "protector bottle" coverage - enough to get through a month or more of relatives and other drop-ins that wouldn't know a good bottle of wine if it jumped up and bit them in the mid-palate.

The Wine Whore said...

Ohh! Their second label, Segla is very good too! For a minute I though you had their '03 Rauzan-Segla and almost crapped my pants! :P In any case, you have some nice bottles! Opening any of those this week/weekend?

I agree with you MVineyards, house wine is the way to go for everyday drnking! If nothing else, it helps you appreciate the good stuff! :) Are you opening anything nice to celebrate?

Hey wino4ever! It's funny how many of us can really relate to this one! 10% is a pretty good amount of wine... enough to get through a bad storm! :P I also agree that these bottles serve well (if not sometimes better) when sharing with company that doesn't know as much about wine! What's your favorite protector bottle?

wino4ever said...

My "protector bottles" usually fall in the 8-$15 range. Locally, you can't go wrong with Columbia Crest Grand Estates. However, mine tend to be those "specials" that many wineries offer to get rid of their inventory before a new release. It could be almost anything, but for me "almost anything" usually means "Washington State only" - quality wine at a fair price. My most recent purchase was out of Walla Walla, Skylite Cellars "Big Red Hiney", A cab-based blend that was a gold medal winner two years in a row. Sale price was $10, ot $96 a case. PERFECT protector wine!

Corkdork said...

Nope, they're on the "hold until they mature" list. I'll probably pick up a Pinot for tomorrow (Christmas Eve ham), and bring out a domestic red for Christmas. Oh, and some Champagne; gotta have Champagne for opening presents...

The Wine Whore said...

You can't go wrong with a GOOD bottle of $10 wine. You also bring up a great point... some regions are better than others for finding the best Protector wines... what about non-US wines? Any that help fill this gap?

Champagne is a must! Are you going with a Cava Corkdork, or do you have something else rolled up your sleeve!

Ed said...

Some wines I brought with me to the in-laws:

Pinots: Bergstrom, Halleck, Penner-Ash
Alexander Valley Cabs: Lancaster Estates, Medlock Ames

Those are the bigs... got a few Chards, a riesling and a Malvasia for sippin too

Happy Holidays!

Richard Auffrey said...

Though I never referred to them as protector wines, I try to balance my cellar with my higher-end wines and then a bunch of everyday, less expensive wines. Sometimes you just want a simpler wine for dinner, rather than spending the time to really savor over a high-end wine. I will open a high-end wine just for an average dinner, but only when I feel like it.

Like MVineyards, I mark my wines to indicate to my wife which wines are safe for her to open when I am not around. In my cellar, any wine with a tag is off limits unless I am around.

The Wine Whore said...

I think you are going to have a blast! I'll be chillin' at the in-laws too, which often requires me to pull out all of the wine stops! ;)

Malvasia is very nice for an enjoyable sipper! Please let me know how the night goes... and of course, Happy Holidays to you and your family!

LOL! I really like the idea of marking the spousal "stay away" wines. My wife knows better than to F with my collection... I wish she would be more adventurous but for whatever reason, she always defers to me when it comes to wine! I guess I shouldn't complain! :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry for delay in getting back but I can't write from my Blackberry. Anyway I really not sure if I have anything special I am ready to open. Suppose it depends on the crowd. Probably going to our winery for New Years so we will be breaking out the good stuff there. Expecting awesome turnout. I think people are getting tired of being depressed!

MVineyards (Brent)

Corkdork said...

For good value regions, I look to Portugal, southern Italy (Puglia and Sicily), Argentina (really, all of South America), and the Languedoc. Bordeaux can also have good values. Generally, though, I tend to get a lot of Argentine wines as protectors.

This year for Christmas, we'll be opening a very nice 2005 Diamond Mountain District cab from Martin Ray, and drinking GH Martel NV brut (I had it at a tasting in October and was shocked at the quality... for $10 a bottle less than Veuve, which is a good benchmark). No Cava for Christmas.

Oh, and I got my New Years bubbly too -- Pertois Moriset 2000. I couldn't resist :)

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