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Articles,  July, 2002

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The Obsession of Wine Collecting

Maybe I should get married, so I can be nagged by my wife into exercising some restraint and not buying so much wine.  But then I'd have to divorce her, lose some of the wine in divorce proceedings and buy more. So, maybe I shouldn’t.  It seems every door opened leads down the path of buying wine.  Hmmmm.

 This idle rumination comes as I constantly hear from friends that they are buying so fast that they are out of space. And more importantly, they wonder how they are going to sneak it past their spouses, since usually only one of the couple is obsessesed. Or, as one friend put it, “I bought some DRC. And my wife looked at me and said,  “Joe (names have been changed to protect the hideously guilty), the children need shoes this year.”  

I’ve heard some creative gambits. As a case of rare Burgundy arrived at one household near Christmas, and the non-purchasing spouse queried why an agreement not to buy so much wine was being shattered, the purchasing spouse said: “Dear, but this is your Christmas gift.” No, it didn’t work, but you had to admire the creativity. 

Then, there are those who are so desperate that they hire off site storage space even though they have plenty of space at home, just to sneak it past their spouses.  Of course, given the laws of nature, once they have more storage space, they fill it. 

Inquiring minds want to know: what is it with this collector’s urge to buy far more than anyone could ever drink????   I used to say, Hey, it's just another vintage.  Just exercise some restraint,  and there'll be another like it in a couple of years. And that worked for awhile.  Doesn’t it seem, though, that there are an unprecedented number of great vintages these days, things you “gotta have?”  How could you ignore that string of vintages in California from 1991 to 1997? Isn’t it amazing how many fine vintages that they’ve had in the 90s in Piedmont and Tuscany?  How about the hot streak in Chateauneuf lately? Or the arrival of 2001 Germans?  Rather, than increasing my self-control with so much fine and interesting wine available, it's temporarily created a situation where I say, "Gotta have it. WHAT a vintage."  I get the feeling that I am not alone in this, judging from the marital discord apparently being fostered! 

Let’s return to rationality.  I'm convinced that advances in winemaking are going to mean more and more fine vintages. Even Burgundy is becoming half-way consistent! Yes, hell has frozen over.  But that means having to reassess all this automatic, compulsive buying. If there are  multiple great vintages in a row in Piemonte and Chateauneuf, and California, and so on--I really don't have to buy automatically like a fool all the time, do I? Do I? (Say no!)  There really is another vintage of fine quality just around the corner. 

There. I’m cured. Remember, ooh…….. 

Excuse me. I have to go.  There’s a case of ZH Pinot Gris at auction real cheap and who know when I’ll see it at that price again. And … 

Note to readers: remainder of article deleted to protect readers from insanity…..

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Copyright Mark Squires, © 2002 all rights reserved.