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stirring the lees with james molesworth

Stuck in a Wine Freeze

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Oct 17, 2006 12:07pm ET

I'm besieged with wine catalogs and e-mail offerings from all over. I love it—it helps me keep a pulse on what's going on at retail.

Plus, competition is tough for retailers, which means better choices for the consumer. I always tell people to shop around—you'll find the wine for a little less somewhere else. Get on as many e-mail lists as you can.

Right now I'm looking through the big fall sale catalog of one major East Coast retailer, and it's really tough for me. So much good stuff—but I'm in a wine-buying freeze. A few property taxes and kid's school bills seemed to march in via the mail all at the same time, so the wine buying gets moved to the back burner.

All those e-mail offerings? I have to delete them quickly or they sit there, poking me in the arm, nudging me to buy.

It's been over a month since I made a purchase, and I feel like I’m going through withdrawal. I've had to satiate myself by taking in a few shipments of stuff ordered previously, now that the weather is cool. I’ve been doing a little rearranging in my cellar. Busy work for the wine-crazed mind, basically. It’s soothing on the surface, but the bug still gnaws away at me on the inside.

How long have you ever gone without buying wine?
Alfred Gregori
October 17, 2006 1:11pm ET
James,Not more than a week that I can remember.
James Peterson
San Antonio, Texas —  October 17, 2006 1:51pm ET
Funny, but I'm not in a wine freeze right now; it's more of a wine slump. I just don't have any motivation to buy any wine right now. For someone living in Europe, it is very strange where good deals can be found rather easily. Other than buying while eating out on a recent vacation in Italy (where I remarkably didn't buy a single bottle to bring back), I haven't made a solid purchase since I bought a six-pack of nice Piedmonts in early August (over two months now). I've just been drinking what I have--which is no great sacrifice mind you. Still... - Jim
David Lobe
Toronto, —  October 17, 2006 2:12pm ET
2 or 3 weeks max.....more than that and I need to hit a methodone clinic!
Alan Vinci
springfield, n.j. —  October 17, 2006 2:32pm ET
James, 3-4 days at most...I guess the problem is that I happen to live close to one of the best or maybe the best wine store in N.J. The e-mails pour in everyday with great wines at terrific prices, so the temptation is sometimes too great. Such is the world of a wine lover....
Thomas J Manzo
Brielle, NJ —  October 17, 2006 2:44pm ET
I gave up wine last spring for Lent. No drinking it, no buying it, no discussing it, no shopping for it, no smelling it, no researching it...the works, cold turkey. Let's just say I really learned what the Lenten season was all about.
James Molesworth
October 17, 2006 2:59pm ET
Tom: Ouch - that sounds rough. Did you make it all the way through Lent?
Glenn S Lucash
October 17, 2006 3:12pm ET
I too have been on a buying freeze for about six weeks. My reason is that I have no more room in the cellar. I also have just received the purchases from over the summer and they sit in their shipping boxes. My one exception was the 1961 Mouton Rothschild that I was missing from my 54 bottle vertical.
James Molesworth
October 17, 2006 3:42pm ET
Alan: Luckily there isn't a good wine shop within a few blocks of my apartment, or I'd be in big trouble...;-).
Mark Owens
Cincinnati, Oh. —  October 17, 2006 3:45pm ET
It seems that there is always something that you need or can't pass up. It's tough!
Bill Emmerich
IOWA —  October 17, 2006 3:58pm ET
I get some help in stopping the purchase cycle. I live in rural Iowa and do not have much of a local selection so 98% of my purchasing is done through the internet but once June comes the heat stops all shipping until NOW. Over the summer I purchased only one case but now the fun begins again. The real question now is, are 200 bottles too much inventory for a 3 to 4 bottle a week user? Obviously a marriage relationship question!
James Suckling
 —  October 17, 2006 4:04pm ET
Not since yesterday....
Karl Mark
Geneva, IL. —  October 17, 2006 6:26pm ET
Good for you James...I often find myself buying way more than I can drink. A purchase every week or so is ok but I really don't drink all that much. Reaching maximum density in my basement and I still have futures arriving.
Brad Coelho
New York City —  October 17, 2006 6:26pm ET
I'm offically not alone! Being surrounded by beer drinkers usually slams me w/ guilt for my infatuation...but all your confessions make me feel much less diseased!James, the email lists are killing me. I'm an advocate of them for the same reasons you are, but what a tease.
James Suckling
 —  October 17, 2006 7:42pm ET
When I was married, I used to have wine delivered when my wife was out of the house or in the bath!
Kevin Longenecker
Reading, PA —  October 17, 2006 8:12pm ET
I live in Penns-no-vinia so I am not tempted by mail order since shipping into PA is verboten. I stocked up last January (multiple cases)and took 3 mos off. Come April, new arrivals ended my longest the "dry" streak.
Richard Steinberg
Boca Raton , FL —  October 17, 2006 8:28pm ET
I am in mailer purgatory right now! Thanks for the therapy. I keep promising that once the mailers stop, I will cut back. Only thing in my favor is the cellar is getting full. Problem is, so many of the wines from Paso Robles are so drinkable early which fits well with the bordeauxs that I am still aging.
Thomas J Manzo
Brielle, NJ —  October 17, 2006 8:35pm ET
James: I made it through Lent...for all those nonbelievers out there, if this is not proof of God's presence I do not know what is. My fiancee caught me a few times out at dinner deviantly scoping out bottles on other tables, but beyond that, I stuck to it. The one actual, quasi-benefit I can highlight is that when I did return to the world of wine I came back with a more unbiased palate - a sort of tabula rasa. It was exciting to reintroduce wines to my "born-again" palate with a new appreciation.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  October 17, 2006 9:09pm ET
Three days. It's a terrible affliction. I've run out of cellar space, and I can't stop....
Tom Breneman
eau claire, WI —  October 17, 2006 10:30pm ET
Few years back had to negotiate with my wife, either no wine for a year, or no hot tub.....I suffered for a year without adding to the cellar, but that tub feels great!!! :-)
H Leah Amir
Los Angeles, CA —  October 17, 2006 11:49pm ET
Two weeks max, its so tempting with so many good bottles out there and then I get the constant emails of pre-arrivals/offers/new-arrivals which is so hard to pass up. I always try to have a monthly wine budget but it never works.
Tim Adcock
Gilbert, Az —  October 18, 2006 1:38am ET
James, I feel your pain...It's hard to distinguish between my passion for wine and all of the bills that go with it!
Steve Lenzo
PHX, AZ —  October 18, 2006 1:56am ET
It's been 7 hours now. I bought some Kistler Pinot this morning, 2001 Hobbs Bekstoffer-Tokalon yesterday. It may last another 12 hours until I go to lunch tomorrow. I found a few bottles of D.R. Stephens 2002 Moose Valley I just have to add to the cellar. Somebody HELP ME, before I buy again.
Brad Coelho
New York City —  October 18, 2006 8:47am ET
Steve,You are looking for help in the worst place!
Jeffrey Ghi
New York —  October 18, 2006 9:04am ET
I worked it out where if I drink enuf of what I do have, i'd be so sleepy, I'd goto bed before worrying about buying more =)
Kirk R. Grant
Ellsworth, ME —  October 18, 2006 9:19am ET
James, I think the longest I have ever gone without buying wine was a month. It was right after I started working in a retail store. I bought a few cases at cost my first week there. After that I decided it was time to take a break from buying. With tastings from the local distributors, the Jorge Ordonez profile, and other big tastings I found it easier to put off. All that came to a crashing hault when I found a 2003 Oreno for $70. It's amazing what finding one good buy can do to rekindle the buying flame.
Philip Barr
New York City —  October 18, 2006 9:43am ET
It has reached the point where I have started to talk myself out of what I really need ... couple of cases of day to day wines, but every time I go looking I end up purchasing another 2 or 3 really nice bottles. My cellar is nearly full yet I keep justifying bigger purchases. The addiction must stop!
Dan Jaworek
Chicago —  October 18, 2006 10:17am ET
The longest is probably a good 18-24 months. It was just after I bought my home and money was really tight. Then the rollercoaster telecom market took another dive and I lost my job. Not only did I go through ALL of my savings keeping up with my newly acquired mortgage but I drank everything in my "cellar" in that time as well. I'm back to being employed as long as I don't spend too much time on this website but money is still an issue since then. I've been buying wine but my purchases are hard and lean. The quality to price ratio has to be high and I'm always looking for wine that's ready to drink today since I drank that category of my "cellar" way back when and didn't replace it the next generation of tomorrow's wine. So now I have to buy wine for today and tomorrow. But as those "tomorrow" wines come due, I'm sure I'll look back at this time and marvel that I got so much good wine at such great prices. I don't do much mail order but my wine buying comes from a lot of different places today. I have Sam's Wine in Chicago and its a great resource. But there are others too and HDH Auction House has retail sales as well. What I don't find in one place I find in another. Dan J.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  October 18, 2006 10:55am ET
You've struck a nerve here James. Maybe the website should have a "counseling" blog... :-)
Patrick Deparini
Las Vegas, Nevada —  October 18, 2006 11:17am ET
After I found out my wife was pregnant last year, I stopped buying wine to save for college...until I found some Montrachet for 50% off retail!!! Then some Clos de Bez and Insignia for ridiculous prices. Then the mailers from the wineries started. My child is going to have to pay for college herself.
James Peterson
San Antonio, Texas —  October 18, 2006 4:19pm ET
Well, I want to thank both James Molesworth and James Suckling for helping to get me out of my slump. I finally got my copy of the Tuscan report WS edition yesterday, so I promptly ordered some 2001 Brunello today. Just what I needed... -Jim
James Molesworth
October 18, 2006 4:33pm ET
James: Just wait till you get the Rhone report...;-)
Aaron Mandel
Saint Louis —  October 18, 2006 5:42pm ET
I filled up my first rack- bought another, filled that up- bought another, and kept going until I had no more rack room. Then I started to double rack and using space between items on basement shelves as additional "rack" space. The only thing that saved me was my favorite wine store closing. I was then able to go for a month with no wine purchases- until I started traveling to other cities and making a visit to a wine stores a part of the trip. Pretty pathetic isn't it? A visit to a wine store as part of a trip- whether business of pleasure.
Tim Sylvester
Santa Monica, CA —  October 19, 2006 5:51pm ET
Well I was in a freeze "for the foreseeable future," then K&L Wines offered some stunning bargains on Austrian whites, $20 to $24 bottles of wine for $6 to $8! How can you pass that up? Freeze broken yesterday, back on the wagon today.
Theodore Mukamal
NY, NY —  February 21, 2009 2:14am ET
Hi James! I am really enjoying your blog archives. I live in NYC could you kindly suggest some retailers with catalogs or email lists that I should get on? Which catalog were you excited about writing this blog? thanks!
James Molesworth
February 21, 2009 9:27am ET
Theodore: You're digging deep...! My official position at WS requires a position of neutrality on retailers, so I can't make any specific suggestions. I will say that there are some good retailers, but surprisingly, IMO, retail in NYC not at a level commensurate with a world capital.

Luckily the internet allows a quick scan. I would suggest signing up with one of the collective retailer database search sites - as you look for wines, you'll start to see who has to goods and who is competitive on pricing.

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