This post was last updated on July 26th, 2016
When you are traveling the world, either on extended trips or just your usual holidays, it’s nice to bring back a souvenir of the places you’ve seen. If you enjoy a good wine (which many of us do while we’re traveling in particular), bringing back a bottle or two from each place you visit can be a great way to remember the trip. You can crack out a bottle of local wine over dinner back home and reminisce about the good times you had traveling, and maybe even enjoy something a little more unique than the wine you can pick up at your local supermarket.
So if you want to take a little of each destination you visit home with you at the end of your travels, a wine collection could be a great way to do it. But what are the fundamentals to keep in mind when you’re starting a collection? Below we offer some tips on choosing wines, transporting them, storing them and enjoying them when the time is right.
Choosing a local wine
The most important thing about starting a wine collection is to understand why you are doing it. Is this collection meant to be an investment, or do you just want to have a great selection of meaningful wines to hand whenever you need to break out something special? If you are buying wine to enjoy at your leisure, the most important thing is to buy what you like. Don’t feel that you have to buy the legendary local wine if you don’t like it that much.
Your wine collection is all about enjoyment, luxury and remembering your travels fondly. So make sure the wine you buy is the stuff you’ll be really glad to have once you’re home. Definitely consider buying a few bottles, especially if you plan to store the wine for a special occasion. This means you can let yourself have a bottle soon after you get home and you’ll still have that special bottle in the collection when you decide to crack it out further down the line.
Transporting bottles home
It’s important to think about how you are going to transport your bottles home. You need to pack them safely so they don’t break, and very importantly, you need to provide the right temperature conditions so the wine doesn’t spoil during the journey. If you’re traveling some distance by car in a hot climate for example, storing wine bottles in the trunk may well lead to disappointment when you get home.
One option is to invest in a cooler to bring the bottles back. You can either use cool bags with ice blocks, or even get a small electric drinks fridge that can be powered through the lighter port in your vehicle (such as these options from Halfords, for example). If you’re transporting a number of bottles or you have a fair distance to cover on your journey home, it may even be worth shipping the wine just to be safe.
If you are taking the bottles yourself, make sure you can store them securely so they bottles don’t break. Check out WineSkin for an innovative solution to the safe transport of your precious wine bottles.
Storing your collection
Once you’ve successfully brought your souvenir wine bottles home, you need to find a way to store them properly. Let’s face it, most of us probably don’t have a big cellar to house our collections, but it is nevertheless essential that you keep wine in the right temperature and conditions. Ideally your wine storage should be maintained at about 13˚c, so if you don’t have a naturally cool place to store the bottles you might want to invest in a wine fridge.
Once you have a cool place to keep your bottles, consider coming up with a cunning system to organise the bottles. For example, if there are any which need drinking within a certain timeframe you could keep those bottles to together so you don’t accidentally miss the boat on what should have been a classic bottle. It’s also worth noting that corked bottles should be stored horizontally to keep them moist, whereas screw cap bottles can happily be stored upright.
Knowing when to drink up
One of the most important things to be aware of is when each bottle in your collection is going to be at its best. Some bottles are ideal to drink right away, whereas other will get better with age. Equally, bottles that age well usually have a cut-off point so make sure you dare to drink within a reasonable time frame to avoid the disappointment of waiting years to open a bottle only to find it has passed its best.
When you are buying wines to take home from your travels, speak to the local wine specialists to get their view on when the wine will reach its peak. For example, on-board a Cunard luxury cruise, wine is a serious business. Their specialist staff can advise you on how to choose from their extensive, recently updated wine list, or how to select a wine package (as described here). Be prepared for occasional disappointments too – there are lots of things that can cause a wine to go wrong; another reason why it’s always worth buying more than one bottle of any wine you really like.
The key thing about wine collecting on your travels is that it should be a pleasure, and a way to make the memories of your adventures stay with you once you return home. Choose bottles that you love and that will invoke treasured memories when you uncork them. Don’t feel you have to wait for a special occasion – any occasion can be special when you have a unique and sentimentally valuable wine to enjoy with it.