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Keys to the Cellar: Strategies and Secrets of Wine Collecting Hardcover – 22 Sep 2006


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One can find many books on building the perfect wine cellar, but guidance for the budding wine collector on how to fill that cellar is scarce. Meltzer, a Wine Spectator columnist and contributing editor to Food Arts, offers expert and accessible advice on how to develop an enjoyable collection. Meltzer suggests several strategies for collecting wine, focusing on either immediate consumption, taste, investing, or a balance of all three. Plans, budgets, suggested wines, and number of bottles to hold for all four scenarios provide the foundation for starter collections. Wine storage requirements and options are included; chapters are dedicated to locating desired wine, either on the web or at auction. Novices will appreciate the instructions on determining a wine′s value and how to stick to and stretch a budget. Wine and vintages are referred to with no description, so readers are assumed to have some familiarity with the topic. For truly avid collectors, Meltzer discusses wine–related accessories, such as stemware and corkscrews; he has good tips on what′s available and what′s desirable. Helpful appendixes include a glossary of wine–collecting terminology and a forthcoming directory of auctions. Recommended for public libraries. —Kimberly Bartosz, Univ. of Wisconsin at Parkside Lib., Kenosha ( Library Journal , October 15, 2006)

"...offers expert and accessible advice on how to develop an enjoyable collection." ( Library Journal , October 15, 2006)

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Whether your goal is to set aside a few dozen prized bottles for special occasions or tostock an extensive cellar, Keys to the Cellar will unlock the secrets of wine collecting. Having a well–stocked cellar enables you to planahead, ensuring you′ll have the right wines toenhance your meals and letting you transform an ordinary evening into an instant celebration by opening a choice bottle. Practically speaking, collecting can mean getting the best wine at the best price, because the bottles released today may be hard to come by or far more expensive by the time they′re ready for drinking. And storing the wines yourself ensures they′ll age under the best possible conditions. Creating a wine cellar is asource of perpetual pleasures, not the least of which is sharing and enjoying the fruits of your labor. In his entertaining style, wine collecting expert Peter Meltzer describes four basic types of cellars: Meltzer gives you the tools to project your wine needs and plan a cellar that fits your lifestyle, with suggestions for specific wines for each type of cellar. He shows how to navigate the various paths to buying wine, including locating the best retailers, attending auctions, and buying wine online. Offering a strategic, personalized approach toplanning and stocking your cellar, Meltzer suggestscategorizing your wine purchases as "good,""better," and "best," with "good" encompassingcomparatively inexpensive wines you enjoy frequently. That way, you′ll have wine for everyoccasion. However, if your heart is set on cellaringCalifornia cult wines or first growths fromcelebrated Bordeaux vintages such as 1982 or2000, this guide offers the keys for doing that, too. You′ll find much more to inspire and guide your collecting, including tips on storing wine properly, profiles of different wine collectors and how they assembled their prized collections, and the "fine print" on the little details, such as buying wines interstate and overseas and insuring your collection. May your cellar be a continuing source of enjoyment, and may the memories of wine and good times shared linger long after the bottles are empty.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Keys to the Cellar 14 Jan. 2009
By Levi Hensel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Meltzer is a solid writer with an excellent wine industry pedigree. He is a collector himself and is the knowledgeable auction correspondent for Wine Spectator as well as being a contributing editor for Food Arts. His column in Wine Spectator is generally the first thing I read in that publication. Along with the "collector spotlight" segment, it is also often the part of the magazine I enjoy the most.

Unfortunately, I found this book somewhat poorly formatted. I think the problem is that the Mr. Meltzer tries to reach too broad an audience while simultaneously providing very pointed material. Truly, this is a book for the serious wine collector, or for the individual with a lot of capital looking to begin collecting. Either way, it is really meant for someone who is looking at wine collecting as an investment vehicle. In that respect, it serves its purpose and certainly deserves the attention of individuals in those categories.

The book starts with a chapter entitled, "A Cellar To Fit Your Lifestyle", setting the reader up for the expectation that the rest of the book is going to follow a model which is tailored to multiple audiences. However, this expectation is at odds with the actual direction of the following chapters. Successive chapters include "Buying and Selling Wine At Auction," and a historical breakdown, "Collecting: A Brief Background," as well as a discussion of The Wine Spectator Auction Index. These are all topics which I find fascinating, but which I believe could be intimidating for someone interested in starting a moderate or low-end collection. It almost feels as though Mr. Meltzer's editor insisted on the inclusion of the first chapter in order to increase the book's sales, after the rest of the book had already been written.

Some of the most enjoyable and interesting segments of the book are the mid-chapter interludes of either case-studies or anecdotes. I suspect that several of these interludes are really just reprints of Mr. Meltzer's Wine Spectator columns, or at least pull quite heavily from them. In many ways, these interludes could make up their own book. If that were the case, it would make for an infinitely easier volume to move through. As it is, the way they are distributed in the book can be distracting and bog the reader down. Additionally, their content is not always directly relevant to the chapter in which they located, thus making them feel as though they're included in a somewhat pell-mell fashion.

Finally, the writing can also feel overly cerebral and somewhat patronizing at turns. The numerous charts and detailed auction information can also feel overwhelming with the small typeface.

At any rate, part of me loves this book for providing information that serious collectors will find useful and which I found highly informative. The rest of me dislikes it for setting itself up as a collecting guide for the masses but then potentially alienating that readership with the layout and content.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Great book on how to buy for a new cellar and how to buy at auction 1 Feb. 2007
By J. Fuentes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Meltzer is a veteran of the wine auctions and his tips for buying at auction are invaluable. He also provides very solid ideas as to how to start your cellar ( the actual collection of bottles, not the construction of the thing) depending on your interests, lifestyle and approach to wine.

I found it most informative because of the wealth of tidbits and asides that he adds to it. He has been around for a while and it shows. This is a book i would give to someone who wants to seiously get into wine, and i would definetly buy it again.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
More of a Wine Investment 18 Jun. 2008
By Neal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book explained a lot about Wine Auctions, Wine Investment, and how to look for wine bargains. I was looking more for how to cellar the wine, temperatures, humdity, location, how to build the cellar (starting with wines to purchase or how to think about starting a cellar) for truly wine drinkers and it lacked this information. If you want to invest in wine, great book.
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