ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

My friend has about 2,000 bottles and just created a wine cellar. About 90 percent of his wines are from California and 10 percent are Old World. Most wines are relatively newer in vintage dates. He asked that I help him put the wines in the racks. What is the best way to organize them? Alphabetical by producer? Varietal?

—Richard P., Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dear Richard,

Sounds like you already have a plan in place to have separate California and Old World sections, which sounds OK to me, as I like to break down my cellar by country or region. From there, I think it would make sense to sort by producer, and then put each producer’s similar bottlings together. Keep the ready-to-drink vintages closer to eye level and the “don’t you dare touch for 10 years” vintages either up high or down low and labeled with tags so they won’t be handled as much.

I always recommend keeping a separate “drink now” section, for everyday wines that you (or your spouse) can dip into without guilt, and without having to search through and disturb your library wines. These I usually keep closer to the door, organized by varietal or, at least, by red/white/pink/bubbly/sweet.

—Dr. Vinny


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