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Tasting and Collecting Fine Wines

Part of an ongoing series from U-Line contributor, Dave Barna

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Whether or not you categorize “collecting” as obsessive behavior or merely a childlike enthusiasm, the past time, in all likelihood is here to stay. In my mind however, one type of collector that stands apart from the rest, is the elusive “wine collector”. No other pursuit, with the exception of fine art collecting, can unleash such passion, intensity and the multitude of opinionated thoughts as the subject of wine.

The uniqueness of wine lies in the fact that no other hobby involves a living, complex, and ever changing collectible that may eventually evolve into liquid gold, or nothing more than vinegar. Bottles range in value from a few dollars, to hundreds of thousands as documented in today’s international auctions. To taste an old rarity is a difficult experience to describe. For a brief moment, the taster finds himself transcending this world to an era gone by. You realize what you are experiencing is a single moment in history, never to be repeated again.

Although many old wines still exist today, most were not crafted for the long term. Therefore, many collectors experience some disappointment, but most realize this is a part of the wine journey and move on. Further, wine experts often give the impression that proper wine tasting requires a rigid, structured approach with specific flavors and characteristics seemingly being indisputable. A formal approach to tasting may be a good choice, but our individual tastes do detect very personal nuances in the wines we consume, and no single wine will taste the same to everyone.

We’ve all seen the movies where the oenophile views, swirls and tastes the wine, then confidently announces to the group the vineyard and vintage with a stuffy display of arrogance. In fact, even the “experts” aren’t always sure of what they are tasting. Harry Waugh (1904-2001), a notable wine writer and tasting expert in the English wine trade was once asked in an interview whether or not he had ever confused a Bordeaux with a Burgundy. Harry with his usual dry wit replied, “not since lunch.” This statement of course has become legendary in the records of wine lore and collecting.

So what should a consumer expect of wines today? Many of the current releases available offer great value and do provide satisfying experiences for the wine enthusiast. Wine making technology has made significant strides to provide the enthusiast with soundly made varietals on a consistent basis. In the past, it was not uncommon for wineries to release flawed wines at premium prices. Today however, technology, vineyard management, second labels and an increased awareness by the consumer has led to higher standards in the wine industry. In the end, the bottom line to successfully taste and collect fine wine is to buy and collect what you personally like. Don’t worry about what “experts” claim are the best wines, or agonize whether you should opt for a wine rated 90 versus one rated 85 points. Many fine, lesser known wines flounder on store shelves because they were given wines scores below 90 that in actuality would be the better choice. Follow your own palate and you won’t be disappointed.

Coinciding with the availability of quality wines from around the world is the greater appreciation of how fine wines should be stored. Unique wine storage systems were once only suited for restaurants and retailer storage. Today, a number of compact high quality units are available to the enthusiast. U-Line is one such manufacturer of highly engineered consumer wine storage systems and should be considered as a first choice for any collector interested in properly storing their wines. U-Line was the first North American appliance manufacturer to develop a residential wine preservation unit. U-Line’s Wine Captain® Models manage and maintain stable temperature, provide protection from light and harmful UV rays, virtually eliminate vibration, and maintain a suitable level of humidity; all important elements in maximizing the preservation of wine. U-Line has the widest offering of Wine Captain® Models, as well as varying temperature management systems to best accommodate your wine preservation needs and personal tastes.

wine in boxes
wine tasting
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wine1000 Series
1175WC Shown Here

wine2000 Series
2275ZWC Shown Here

wineModular 3000 Series
3024WCOL Shown Here

The 1000 Series utilizes a triple zone design, which allows for optimal preservation of your red, white, and sparkling wines in a single unit.

The 2000 Series offers a digitally controlled temperature management system which allows for precise temperature settings. Units are available with a triple temperature zone design, an individually controlled dual temperature system, and a single zone convection cool system.

The Modular 3000 Series Wine Captain® Model puts the control in your hands by maintaining a temperature within 1°F of the set point to maximize preservation. It also features the U-Select® Control which makes it quick and easy to establish cellar-like conditions using three distinct preservation modes: Sparkling, White, and Red. Learn more about the U-Select® Control of the Modular 3000 Series Wine Captain® Model by clicking here.

About Dave Barna

Dave Barna has been a wine collector since 1979 and boasts a high quality collection of approximately 1,000 bottles. His storied collection contains wines dating back to the 1700′s, and wines so exceptional that they’re registered with Christie’s in London to ensure a formal record of their current location. Dave is recognized as an expert in Ports and Madeiras and is active in international wine auctions. In addition, his published contributions can be found in various epicurean magazines.

Though Dave is known for his extensive wine collection, he also enjoys collecting books, specifically American “First Editions”. Dave Barna has been married for 26 years and is the proud father of two daughters. He also enjoys Corvettes and motorcycling.

About U-Line

For over five decades, and through three generations, U-Line continues to be the American leader in innovation, quality and performance in the premium built-in undercounter ice making, refrigeration and wine preservation market. Delivering versatility and flexibility for multiple applications including residential, light commercial, outdoor and marine use, U-Line's complete product collection includes undercounter ice makers, Combo® Model ice maker/refrigerators, Wine Captain® Model wine preservation appliances, refrigerators, refrigerator freezers and refrigerator drawer models. U-Line is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a west coast office located in Laguna Beach, California; and European support in Dublin, Ireland and Barcelona, Spain. For more information on U-Line and its products visit u-line.com.