Down in the cellar

After a jam-packed spring, Claudio and I finally had a weekend at home in Varinella. Not ready to face all the paperwork, filing, and photo organizing that lie in wait after eight weeks of wine touring, I went down to the cellar to procrastinate, er, tackle a different project: organizing our 300-400 bottles — and prep for a depletion party!

My earlier efforts had gotten messed up over time, so we had no idea what lurked there. How many over-the-hill bottles, how many forgotten gems.

As a consummate organizer, it felt good. I tidied up our Tuscan and our Piedmont walls, our Barbaresco nook (below), our Chianti & Sicily co-share (above), and created a new Rhone rack, necessary after a quick car trip this May. Plus, I labeled the bins – sure, with yellow stickies, but they’re labeled nonetheless.

Any of you coming on our fall LAND OF BAROLO tour will get a personal tour before the cooking lesson. You’ll see the well dug by British prisoners of war during WWII, the 1950s cement tub for crushing grapes, the ancient ceiling hooks for hanging prosciutto and sacks of cheese (we do actually store our cheese that way when out of town), and the various wine racks Claudio has devised — from terracotta roof tiles, cement squares, and staves of an oak cask.

Below is the core of the collection. The cement cubicles are rustic but practical, neatly holding nine bottles. I’m pleased to say we’ve got a fair share of Barolo from 1997 (the year we met), 1999 (the year we married), plus bins of 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, and every year thereafter.

Running a close second are our Brunellos, with 2 bins from the 1990s, plus bins of 04, 06, 07, 08, 09, and 2010. Then there's the Vino Nobile, the Amarone (my passion), the Alto Adige goodies, the precious Port.

I’ve tried to put a brake on our (cough, Claudio’s) buying, but that effort is hopeless. My new goal is to have depletion parties as often as we can. (The hurdle is we’re hardly ever home in Piedmont.)

Faced with all this potentially glorious wine, my takeaway is this: Don’t save the good stuff! Indulge now, with guiltless pleasure. As they say, you can’t take it with you.

But if only I could beam it to Brooklyn.